Boro Proposes One-Mill Tax Hike
McConnellsburg Borough Council adopted a tentative 2014 budget last Wednesday evening that calls for a one-mill tax increase for borough residents. On a Jim Smith/Rick Buterbaugh motion, council voted unanimously to accept a proposed budget that calls for $269,369 in expenditures to be offset by $646,799 in revenues and investments. After a discussion on taxes, council voted on a Pat Frazier/Jim Smith motion to set taxes at 6 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, 2012 and 2013, taxes remained the same as well. One mill of taxes in the borough yields about $23,000 to the borough’s coffers.
Council also considered correspondence from the county indicating that as a result of recent tax appeals, three properties in the borough collectively had appraisals lowered by about $99,670, which will ultimately result in a loss of real estate tax in the borough.
Council considered raising taxes in 2013 based on the need to plan for future equipment and infrastructure expenses, but ultimately held the line in 2013, promising to revisit the issue again for the 2014 budget. One concerning issue for council is the need to replace the bridge on North Third Street near the Lincoln Way intersection. Currently weight limits are in place on the bridge. Expenditures
The proposed budget projects spending of $135,614 in the general government category, a 9 percent increase over projected 2013 expenditures ($124,499) in that category. The increase is due largely to an expected increase in insurance and utilities. Council members agreed to make an annual contribution of $500 to the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and a donation to the library of $1,000.
Protection of persons and property
In the total protection category, the proposed budget sets spending at $12,548, a decrease of approximately $13,787 or 110 percent from expected 2013 expenditures of $26,335. The high expenditure in 2013 was due to damage to the traffic signal system which was recouped in insurance funds.
Fire, water & contributions
The budget proposed sets expenses in this category at $19,007, just slightly more than anticipated spending of $18,670 in 2013. This is due to an anticipated slight increase in trash collections for bulky item day.
A marked increase in expected street construction and street repairs in 2014 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 $4,298 in 2013. Street construction for 2014 is budgeted at $20,000. Snow removal for 2014 is budgeted at $10,000, which is more than actual expenditures of $4,536 during 2013. Overall, council projects spending of $102,200 in the highways portion of the budget, a significant increase over expected expenditures of $68,525 in that category for 2013.
On the revenue side of the budget, council expects to collect $158,985 in real estate, occupation and per-capita taxes and $165,779 from miscellaneous sources, including wage taxes, TV cable commission, parking meters and fines. Total receipts of $646,799 expected for 2014 are up significantly from 2013 anticipated receipts of $560,064. This is due largely to the tax increase and due to an expected increase in return on investments.
The borough expects to end 2014 with a balance of $377,430, up slightly from this year’s expected ending balance of $322,035.
The proposed budget will be open for inspection for 30 days. Council must adopt a final 2014 budget at its December meeting. After the 30-day review period, council may make changes to the budget but may not increase taxes.