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Borough water rates on the rise

December 17, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The owner of an average-priced Waynesboro home will pay about $50 more a year in local property taxes next year following adoption Thursday of the borough's 2005 budget.

While the general fund and street light budgets will stay the same at 18.18 mills and 2.3 mills, respectively, the Borough Council added 3 new mills to the 2005 appropriation to be spent solely on street repairs.

Residents also will see the cost of basic trash pickup increase by $9.60 every three months, following action by the council Thursday.

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When Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger first presented a preliminary budget to the council in October, the numbers called for a tax increase of 6.8 mills.

Hamberger blamed a $150,000 increase in the cost of health insurance premiums for borough employees. Negotiations with the provider resulted in a lower rate, he has said.

Police and fire department budget increases requested for next year also raised the ante for the proposed budget. Police Chief Ray Shultz asked for $80,000 more in his budget specifically for upgrades to equipment and needed office space.

The council pared the budget to the point where no tax increases were needed for the general fund. "It was just good financial planning," Hamberger said at the time.

The council also raised the greens fees at the Waynesboro Municipal Golf Course for next year.

The 3 mills for street repairs will generate about $165,000 a year and will be a permanent item in future budgets.

Councilman Andrew Benchoff cast the single dissenting vote on the budget without comment.

Benchoff said after the meeting that he opposes the 3 mill increase for street repairs.

Last month, when the issue first came up, Benchoff asked the council to wait a year before raising taxes for street repairs then consider floating a 20-year bond issue big enough to repair all the streets that need it. His council colleagues turned a deaf ear to his suggestion.

When he first proposed raising money for street repairs, Councilman Dick George, street committee chairman, said nearly half of the borough's streets need total reconstruction. Another 20 percent need immediate resurfacing, projects that would cost upward of $10 million if done all at once.

He estimated that reconstructing a single block would cost around $500,000.

George showed a report Thursday listing 21 streets that need reconstruction and 10 that need resurfacing. The street committee now has to decide which ones will be done next year.

He has said it could take a decade to complete the list, but the borough has to start the repairs next year.

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