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Chambersburg won't raise real estate tax rate in '09

November 25, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg property owners will not be seeing a real estate tax increase in 2009, but employees will be getting a cost-of-living increase of 4 percent.

The Borough Council voted Monday night to set the 2009 tax rate at 20 mills, the same as the previous two years. Also passed was the 2009 pay rate for the approximately 60 employees who are not members of a bargaining unit.

The pay increases for those administrative, clerical and technical personnel generally match those of employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. Members of AFSCME, as well as police and firefighters, will also receive 4 percent raises next year as called for in their union contracts.

The borough has approximately 200 employees, according to the preliminary budget.

When the council passed the preliminary 2009 budget in October, it voted not to hire two additional police officers and three firefighters, reallocating the money to its general fund cash reserve. Council members expressed concerns about the national economic picture, particularly the borough's $1 million in pension obligations next year.

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Each police position would cost $96,100 and each firefighter position $77,200, according to the budget summary. Oyer told the council last month that funding those five positions in 2010 would require a 2-mill increase, or $2 on every $1,000 of assessed value on a property.

The borough's pension contribution is $258.628, with the balance coming in the form of state aid. That level of state aid, however, could be threatened by the shaky economy, according to the budget summary.

Residents will not see real estate taxes or water, sewage and sanitation fees increase in 2009, but natural gas rates are expected to increase 7.5 percent and electric rates will go up about 15 percent. The borough owns all four of its major utilities.

The $11.6 million general fund is slightly less than the current year, Oyer said Monday. Balancing the budget, however, will require transferring more than $800,000 in cash reserves, leaving the borough with a projected cash balance of $1.5 million by the end of 2009.

The borough's total budget is $69.1 million, which includes the water, sewer. Final passage of the budget is set for Dec. 8.

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