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Chambersburg borough budget to hold line on taxes

October 16, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Rates for borough electric customers will increase 20 percent by the end of next year, but property taxes should remain unchanged, according to the 2008 budget presentation Monday to the Chambersburg Borough Council.

"It's a squeeze, but I think we can manage a budget without a tax increase," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said before the presentation. Balancing the $11,478,270 general fund budget, however, will require taking more than $1.3 million out of cash reserves, he said before his presentation.

Development within the borough and better than expected revenues from the emergency and municipal services tax in 2007 should help the borough hold the line on taxes, Oyer said.

"We had more cash than we anticipated and we can use some of that to balance the budget, but that won't last forever," Oyer said.

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The largest share of the general fund is $4.1 million for the Police Department, followed by almost $3 million for the fire and ambulance service, according to the budget document. Highways, traffic and lighting is next at $1.75 million followed by the Recreation Department at $1.2 million.

The 2007 budget raised taxes 3 mills to 20 mills as three new police positions and three paid firefighter positions were approved. Oyer said another property tax increase could be looming in 2009 when the borough plans to add two more positions to the police department and three more firefighters.

The two departments account for more than 60 percent of general fund expenditures next year, according to the budget proposal.

On the revenue side, real estate taxes are expected to bring in approximately $3.5 million with wage and net profit taxes bringing in another $1.6 million. Licenses, permits and other fees are projected to generate about $1.7 million, while $1.6 million will be transferred from other departments to the general fund.

The total budget, including the budgets for the borough's four utilities, is $63.1 million, compared to $58.8 million in 2007, according to the proposal.

Customer rates for gas, sewer and water service will remain the same, Oyer said, but electric customers will see rate increase in two stages next year.

The increase for the year will average 15 percent, but rates will be up 20 percent by the end of the year, Electric Department Superintendent Richard Hamsher said.

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