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Chambersburg looks to hold line on taxes in 2009

October 14, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg will add two police officers and three paid firefighters and perform about $2 million in capital improvements in 2009, but will not be raising real estate taxes from the current 20 mills, Borough Manager Eric Oyer told the Borough Council during a budget preview on Monday.

It costs $96,100 to fund one police officer and $77,200 for a firefighter, but the police officers will be hired in June and the firefighters in early fall, lessening the impact on the budget, Oyer said. Still, paying for the positions will be the equivalent of 2 mills in taxes in 2010, he said.

One mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value on a property.

The $11.6 million general fund will need $807,000 from cash reserves to balance it, Oyer said. If need be, capital work could be trimmed from the final budget to avoid using reserve funds, he said.

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Residents will see electricity increase about 15 percent next year with natural gas going up 7.5 percent, Oyer said. The increases will also be phased in to get residents through the winter, he said.

Increased gas and food prices have eaten into people's incomes enough without raising property taxes, as well, Oyer said.

The total budget about $62 million, including the gas, electric, water and sewer and sanitation departments, which are funded by rate payers. Borough utilities are still a bargain, Oyer said, noting that the combined cost of water, sewer and sanitation service is less than people pay for basic cable.

The Police Department budget will increase 6 percent to $4,347,575. The Emergency Services Department budget will increase 11.7 percent to $3.3 million and the Recreation Department is recommended for an 8.7 percent increase to $1.3 million.

Oyer showed the council a list of recreation improvements totaling $14 million, topped by $8 million for an aquatic center, but that would require a bond issue.

The Highway, Traffic and Street Lighting departments will see a combined decrease their budgets of almost 26 percent to $1.3 million, due to a reduced schedule of streets work. However, the borough plans to spend $1 million in General Capital Reserve funds to reconstruct Brumbaugh Avenue and another $500,000 in reserves for stormwater system improvements from Hollywell Avenue to Eisenhower Drive.

A big savings for the borough will be a decrease of almost 20 percent for health insurance to $2.2 million, a result of pooling with other municipalities and few claims, Oyer said.

Preliminary approval of the budget is scheduled for Oct. 27 with final approval on Dec. 8.

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