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Greencastle to hold line on taxes in 2009

December 02, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Despite a wavering national economy, the Borough of Greencastle managed to squeeze another year of capital projects, sewer improvements and police personnel increases out of the property tax rate it established in 2004, keeping taxes at the stable 11 mills residents have paid for the last five years.

With only a small increase in property tax revenue anticipated for 2009, Borough Manager Ken Womack said he was able to keep general fund expenditures generally on par with what the borough spent in 2008, while budgeting only $134,000 out of the general fund for capital projects.

The council Monday night unanimously approved the budget prepared by Womack.

"I am glad we put together another budget without raising taxes," said Council President Charlie Eckstine.

Womack said only three major capital projects are on the menu for 2009: a new $72,000 financial accounting system, a $400,000 sewer line replacement along U.S. 16 near CVS Pharmacy and a $20,000 upgrade in borough radios.

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The borough will split the bill for its new accounting system with the Greencastle Water Authority and the borough sewer fund, he said, while his itemized budget indicated the sewer line replacement will come directly out of the sewer utility fund.

The police department continues to be the largest draw on the borough, which will spend 39 percent of its 2009 budget on police services, according to information provided Monday.

Womack said 2008 saw a shift from a largely part-time police force to the current schedule of four full-time officers and five part-time officers.

For 2009, he said the plan is to increase part-time coverage hours to 10 part-time shifts of 10 hours per week.

While the change in part-time coverage will require an additional $17,000 from the general fund in 2009, Womack said changes in other general fund line items have decreased the overall percentage spent on police by 1 percent.

The council's newest member, Michele Emmett, called it a feat to pull together a budget with no tax increases that was also transparent and thorough.

"I am impressed," she said.

Council members Harry Foley, Christopher Grimm and Craig Myers said they were comfortable voting for the 2009 budget, saying it was "very well-prepared."

The budget, including the general fund, capital reserve and sewer fund, was approved by a quorum of the council, with members H. Duane Kinzer and Paul Schemel absent.

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