Borough Budget Holds Line On Taxes
McConnellsburg Borough Council adopted a tentative 2013 budget last Wednesday evening that, once again, calls for no tax increases for borough residents. On a David Washabaugh/Mack Shaffer motion, council voted unanimously to accept a proposed budget that calls for $267,972 in expenditures to be offset by $$533,571 in revenues. Also, after a lively discussion on taxes, council voted on a Rick Buterbaugh/ Pat Booth motion to set taxes at 5 mills on real estate in the borough, 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.
In 2008, council voted to cut real estate taxes for 2009 from 7 mills to 5 mills based on its decision to disband the borough police department effective December 31, 2008. That vote made good on a promise that council had made to its citizens earlier to return a portion of the tax dollars saved by abolishing the police force. In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, taxes remained the same as well. One mill of taxes in the borough yields about $25,000 to the borough’s coffers.
Borough Council members agreed on a 6-1 vote they would not raise any taxes in 2013, even though spending is expected to be slightly higher than in 2012.
Prior to voting on the tax motion, council members did discuss raising taxes by one-half to one mill, citing future infrastructure expenditures such as a share in the new Third Street bridge, paving and a replacement of equipment. However, in the end, the sentiment of the majority was that the economy does not support a tax increase in 2013, but that one will likely be considered for 2014.
The proposed budget projects spending of $135,784 in the general government category, a 13 percent increase over projected 2012 expenditures ($119,827) in that category. The increase is due largely to an expected increase in legal expenses and in utilities. Council members agreed to make an annual contribution of $250 to the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and donations to the library and to the Parks and Recreation Commission of $1,000 and $2,000, respectively. Councilman Rick Buterbaugh, who is also a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, noted that if the Parks and Rec Commission is disbanded at the end of 2012 as has been predicted, the donation will remain in the borough’s coffers.
Protection of persons and property
In the total protection category, the proposed budget sets spending at $12,548, an increase of approximately $4,879 or 65 percent from expected 2012 expenditures of $7,669. The increase includes funds for the traffic signal system, parking meters and maintenance, zoning and computers, and an increase in contribution to the police pension fund that will be due in January.
Fire, water & contributions
The budget proposed sets expenses in this category at $17,940, just slightly more than anticipated spending of $17,228 in 2012. This is due to an anticipated slight increase in trash collection for bulky item day.
A marked increase in expected street construction and street repairs in 2013 is the main reason for an increase in this line item. Although council expects to spend about $15,000 in street repairs next year, actual street repairs are set for about $3,751 in 2012. Street construction for 2013 is budgeted at $20,000. Snow removal for 2013 is budgeted at $10,000, which is more than actual expenditures of $1,482 during 2012. Overall, council projects spending of $101,700 in the highways portion of the budget, a significant increase over expected expenditures of $60,232 in that category for 2012.
On the revenue side of the budget, council expects to collect $137,688 in real estate, occupation and per-capita taxes and $144,145 from miscellaneous sources, including wage taxes, TV cable commission, parking meters and fines. Total receipts of $533,572 expected for 2013 are up significantly from 2012 anticipated receipts of $456,699. This is due largely to an expected increase in return on investments.
The borough expects to end 2013 with a balance of $265,600, up slightly from this year’s expected ending balance of $251,738.
The proposed budget will be open for inspection for 30 days. Council must adopt a final 2013 budget at its December meeting. After the 30-day review period, council may make changes to the budget but may not increase tax-