Boro Makes 2 Mill Tax Cut For 2009
McConnellsburg Borough Council approved a tentative 2009 budget last Wednesday evening that calls for a 2 mill tax decrease for property owners in the borough. On a Mike Chilcote/Lee Rager motion, council voted unanimously to lower the mill- age rate from 7 to 5 mills on real estate in the borough. The vote made good on a promise that council had made earlier to its citizens to return a portion of the tax dollars saved by abolishing the police force. One mill of taxes in the borough yields about $25,000 to the borough's coffers. Council also voted for all other taxes to remain the same, including occupation taxes at 20 mills and a $5 per-capita tax. Borough taxpayers also pay a one-half percent real estate transfer tax and a one-half percent wage tax.
Council last raised taxes in 2005 from 6 mills to 7 mills on property taxes for the year 2006 and the property tax has remained the same since then.
The proposed budget was adopted unanimously on a Lee Rager/ Travis Bard motion during the council's regular monthly meeting.
The borough's proposed 2009 budget calls for expenditures of $361,071 to be offset by revenues of approximately $580,318. Expenditures are projected to be lower than estimated 2008 expenditures by about 15 percent. The proposed 2009 overall projected budget reflects an overall "tightening of the belt" by council members during rough economic times.
The proposed budget projects spending of $137,544 in the General Government category and is less than projected 2008 expenditures in that category by about 2 percent. The decreases are largely in legal expenses, Social Security and telephone bills for the police department. There were small increases in the tax collection fees and in water, heat and lighting bills. Police Protection
In the Total Police Protection category, the proposed budget sets spending at $96,580, a decrease of approximately $93,000 or 49 percent from expected 2008 expenditures of $189,644. Although the decrease reflects the decision made by council not to enter into a new union contract after the current one expires at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2008, council did have to budget $96,580 for 2009 to cover end-of-contract obligations that are now being negotiated. Council budgeted $12,000 per officer and $51,026 for the pension fund. Council's contribution to the police pension fund in 2009 is 37 percent higher than their 2008 contribution. The contributions are calculated by an actuary.
Fire, Water & Contributions
The budget proposed sets expenses in this category at $18,447, just slightly more than anticipated spending of $18,086 in 2008. Only a slight increase is expected in trash collection for bulky item day. Highways
A marked increase in expected street construction and street repairs in 2009 is the main reason for an increase in this line item this year. Although council expects to spend about $15,000 in street repairs next year, actual street construction is set for about $20,000 in 2009. Only $6,006 was spent on street construction in 2008 due to the high cost of petroleum. Snow removal for 2009 is budgeted at $10,000, which is more than actual expenditures of $9,107 during a relatively mild 2008 winter. Overall, council projects spending of $108,500 in the highways portion of the budget, a significant increase over expected expenditures of $77,783 in that category for 2008.
On the revenue side of the budget, council expects to collect $146,658 in real estate, occupation and per-capita taxes and $155,519 from miscellaneous sources, including wage taxes, TV cable commission, parking meters and fines. Total receipts of $580,318 expected for 2009 are down significantly from 2008 anticipated receipts of $703,526. The nearly 18 percent decrease reflects a shrinking economy with the largest decreases in real estate taxes (due largely to the tax decrease), parking meters and fines, interest on investments and real estate transfer taxes. Pending the outcome of end-ofcontract negotiations with the Mc- Connellsburg Borough Police Association, council has declined to say how parking meters and fines could be collected since the Pennsylvania State Police cannot enforce borough regulations.
The borough expects to end 2008 with a balance of $219,247, down from this year's expected ending balance of $278,141.
The proposed budget will be open for inspection for 30 days, and council must adopt a final 2009 budget at its December meeting. Following the 30-day review period, council may make changes to the budget but may not increase taxes set at last Wednesday's meeting.