Tuesday, November 10, 2015

No Pottstown Borough Tax Hike for 2016

Fuzzy Photo by Evan Brandt
A copy of the 1965 Pottstown Borough Budget taken from
the time capsule 
opened in September and now on display
in the lobby of borough hall.  
I didn't have the heart to
find out what the taxes were then.
Not that any of you think Pottstown's taxes are going back to what they were in 1965, but its nice to dream.

And after all, given that council adopted a 2016 budget last night, it seemed like a good time to reminisce.

But enough of that, to business I say!

It might have been a four-page agenda, but council made quick work of most of it, including a relatively painless decision on the budget.

When borough staff unveiled the proposed $57.3 million budget last week, it included the possibility of a 3.25 percent tax hike to close a $245,349 deficit between projected revenues and expenditures.

By Monday night, the estimate of that  deficit had dropped to $212,731.

Borough Manager Mark Flanders said the reduction was made "after we had our meeting with AFSCME (the borough's non-police workers are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and we felt confident in making some adjustments."

Closing that deficit entirely with a tax hike would have meant a 2.74 percent increase in the borough's millage.

Finance Director Janice Lee had also put together a sliding scale to allow council to choose from a menu of options between closing the gap with a tax hike or taking it from reserves.

  • A 2 percent tax hike would have meant taking $25,000 out of reserves and an annual tax increase of $19.99 for a property assessed at $100,000.
  • A 1.5 percent tax hike would have meant taking $98,000 out of reserves and an annual tax increase if $15.01 for a property assessed at $100,000, she said.
  • Don't forget, Borough Hall will be closed Wednesday.
  • A 1 percent tax hike would have meant taking $137,000 out of reserves and an annual tax hike of $10.03 for a property assessed at $100,000.

But council wanted none of that.

With praise for the staff, and expressed confidence in their ability to find $212,731 in savings or additional revenue over the course of 2016, council voted unanimously for adopt the budget with no tax hike at all.

It will be the third budget in four years with no tax hike.

(BTW, if any of you are wondering why the budget amount seems so high, it's because for the first time this year, Lee also included the $6.2 million water and $9 million sewer budgets -- as well as the $9.5 million sewer capital budget and $5 million water capital budget -- into the total figure.)
An artist's rendering of what Fecera's will look like renovated.

Also of interest last night, council unanimously adopted the preliminary and final site plan approvals for the conversion of the former Fecera's furniture warehouse at Beech and North Evan's streets into apartments and a new home for ArtFusion 19464.

With that, I will let you loose on the Tweets from last night's meeting.

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