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Proposed Chambersburg budget free of tax hike

October 25, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The proposed $10.4 million 2006 general fund budget for Chambersburg includes no real estate tax increase, but Borough Manager Eric Oyer said some red flags are on the horizon.

Despite projected growth of 6.7 percent in revenues to $9.7 million, Oyer said it is not enough to cover growing expenditures. The budget will be balanced with the help of $730,000 in cash reserves and approximately $2.4 million in budget transfers, primarily from the borough's utility funds, Oyer said.

"This is the last time I intend to recommend additional positions in the general fund budget without asking for a tax increase," Oyer told the borough council Monday night when he reviewed the budget package. The proposal does include funding for three new firefighting positions, but not the additional three police officers Police Chief Michael DeFrank had requested.

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Residents already have been hit with higher gasoline and heating oil prices plus a projected increase of 30 percent in natural gas prices purchased from the borough-owned utility, Oyer said. The financial effect of those increases was taken into account in holding the line on real estate taxes at 17 mills, he said.

"We ought to wish the citizens a Merry Christmas because we're not going to be able to hold the line indefinitely," Councilman Allen Frantz said.

One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value on a property. Oyer said despite more than $35 million in new construction in Chambersburg through October, that only translates to $80,000 in additional taxes because of Franklin County's method of assessing property.

The budget allocates $3.6 million for the police department, an 8.3 percent increase, Oyer said. Fire and ambulance services account for another $2.5 million, up 12 percent from this year, he said.

The highway traffic and street lighting budget will top $2 million as the borough continues an aggressive multiyear road improvement program, Oyer said. The Recreation Department budget will pass $1 million for the first time next year, he said.

Including the borough's gas, electric, water and sewer utilities, and the sanitation and parking budgets, the borough's total budget for 2006 is about $60 million, Oyer said.

A vote on preliminary adoption of the budget is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31, with final adoption set for Dec. 12.

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