Franklin Co. plans property tax increase

December 10, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners plan to raise property taxes by half a mill in 2010.

On Thursday, the commissioners approved their preliminary budget, which includes the tax increase to pay principal and interest on debt.

The commissioners said the increase will translate into an additional $8.70 in taxes for someone with a house worth $150,000. That house would be assessed at $17,400.

A mill represents $1 of every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.

"It's a responsible budget, and it reflects, I think, a balanced budget," said Commissioners Chairman Bob Thomas.

Expenditures totaling $111 million represent a $4 million decrease from the original version of the 2009 budget. The commissioners revised the 2009 budget with spending cuts in the spring.

Additional personnel cuts will be forthcoming, the commissioners said.

"Proposals have been made to certain offices to reduce staff," Commissioner David Keller said. "We've made proposals for specific positions."


The board wouldn't elaborate further about the scope of layoffs, except to say the decisions will be finalized Jan. 4.

New positions will be created in public safety, law enforcement, administration of justice and operational efficiency, Keller said. Employees whose positions are eliminated will be encouraged to apply for the new jobs, he said.

The pending construction of a new judicial center weighed heavily in many budget decisions, officials said.

Thomas said the one-half mill tax increase is needed to maintain a first-rate credit rating for borrowing. Commissioner Robert Ziobrowski said borrowing could occur within a year to build a center that would cost $200 to $300 per square foot.

Three full-time, temporary employees will be needed to transfer legal documents from paper to microfilm, Keller said. That transfer will give courthouse employees easier access to files and reduce costs for document storage, he said.

"It may cost some money now, but it's going to save money for a long time," Keller said.

The commissioners are scheduled to adopt their final budget Dec. 31. If approved as written, the tax rate for operations would remain 22.55 mills and the tax rate for libraries would remain eight-tenths of a mill.

Taxes for debt service would increase from 2.1 mills to 2.6 mills.

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