Chambersburg budget to include 3-mill tax increase

December 19, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council voted 8-1 Monday for final approval of a $10.5 million general fund budget and an ordinance that raises real estate taxes 3 mills in 2007.

Council President William McLaughlin called it "a budget geared toward hometown security .... consolidating resources to handle problems we have at home."

"The quality of life is going to be dependent on keeping our streets safe," Councilwoman Elaine Swartz said in supporting the budget.

The budget adds three patrol officers to the police department and three firefighters to the fire department. The budget originally called for two more police officers, but Police Chief Michael T. DeFrank requested another be added in 2007, raising the number of officers to 34.


McLaughlin and Swartz were joined by council members Mary Beth Shank, Allen Coffman, Ruth Harbaugh, Glenn Manns, Robert Wareham and Janet Lukic in approving the budget. Councilwoman Sharon Bigler was absent.

Councilman Heath Talhelm voted against the budget and the amendment to raise the property tax.

"It's not what I ran on. It's not what I'm about," Talhelm said. He said he was in favor of the additional public safety hiring, but not the amount of spending in the overall budget.

"This is only the third time since 1990 that council has raised taxes," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. "Most boroughs in Pennsylvania have been faced with raising taxes over and over."

The borough avoided an increase in 2006 because of the $52 emergency and municipal services tax, Oyer said. That tax on people who work in the borough, $5 of which goes to the school district, brought in an estimated $800,000 this year, according to the budget.

Property tax revenues will increase about $625,000 to $3.27 million, a combination of the higher tax rate and growth in the tax base from new construction. Wage taxes are projected to bring in $1,425,000.

A long list of other revenue sources includes ambulance service receipts, recreational receipts, the cable television franchise payment, and police fines and costs.

Public safety, which includes police, fire and ambulance, makes up the majority of the general fund budget, Oyer said. The police department budget will top $4 million for the first time, while fire and ambulance services will be about $2.8 million.

The total budget, which includes the budgets of the electric, gas, water sewer and sanitation departments, is $58,769,925, Oyer said.

When the proposed budget was previewed in October, Oyer said expenditures would exceed revenues by about $650,000 even with a tax increase, a shortfall that will have to be made up out of cash reserves.

One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value on a property. On a property with a market value of $100,000, each mill would add about $10 to the owner's tax bill, Oyer said in October.

How they voted

The Chambersburg Borough Council voted 8-1 to give final approval to a $10.5 million budget for 2007. The budget raises real estate taxes 3 mills.

For: William McLaughlin, Elaine Swartz, Mary Beth Shank, Allen Coffman, Ruth Harbaugh, Glenn Manns, Robert Wareham and Janet Lukic

Against: Heath Talhelm

Absent: Sharon Bigler

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