Palmerton borough residents have some welcome news.
By a 6-0 vote on Thursday, council agreed to adopt the 2012 budget with no tax increase. Councilman Randolph Gursky was absent.
The $13,468,993 budget will leave the millage rate unchanged at 8.27 mills. The owner of a home with a market value of $100,000, which would be assessed at $50,000, will again pay $413.50 in property taxes to the borough next year.
In his budget address, borough Manager Rodger Danielson said next year's spending plan "is presented with a better understanding of where we are in some major construction aspects, such as the new wastewater treatment plant."
"In 2011, bonding was finalized, which gives a more predictable cost structure for this $10 million project," Danielson said in his budget address. "Interest rates, which locked in for 30 years, have provided the hoped-for less than $50 per month user fees necessary for covering both operation costs and debt reduction."
Danielson mentioned two projects undertaken in the water department by the borough municipal authority that were both completed without any additional user fees required for residential customers.
"Raises in industrial water use rates were made to compensate for electric use," he said. "The extension of our contract for residential refuse removal insured that no increases would be necessary in these user fees."
Further, Danielson said a "fairly stable tax base of both earned income and real estate values gives us a sounder base than we have been able to consider for the last several budget cycles." In addition, he said "no major projects are considered in the general fund portion of the budget; therefore, our tax collections will mirror our previous two years."
However, two carryover construction projects do remain under consideration to begin in 2012, Danielson said.
The first is the construction of a new fire station, which he said would be paid largely by the state's local share grant of $905,000. That grant has been extended for one year, up through June of 2013, Danielson said.
The second, Danielson said, is the new waterline/paving project through the use of Community Development Block Grant funds that had previously been scheduled for this year, but had to be moved to next year to address engineering issues that had been discovered in the design work. The delay may actually save money, as a possible solution may reduce the number of residential hookups necessary.
"Overall, I believe the 2012 budget gives a realistic proposal of both revenues and expenditures, and is designed to provide the same level of services provided to our residents in the past," Danielson said.
This year's $15,566,815 budget also reflected no increase in the property tax rate.
In 2010, residents saw a 1-mill reduction in their property tax rates, which lessened the millage rate from 9.27 to 8.27 mills. That meant the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000, which was assessed at $50,000, paid $413.50 in property taxes this year, down $50.50 from the $464 that person paid in 2009. That budget did, however, call for a $10 increase in the monthly sewer rates
In 2009, residents saw a 19-percent hike in their property tax rates after council approved a budget that called for a 1.5 mill increase that raised the millage rate from 7.77 to 9.27 mills. That meant the owner of a $100,000 home, which was assessed at $50,000, paid $464, up $75 from the $389 they paid in 2008.
Also, as part of that budget, residents saw a 10-percent increase in their water rates as well, which resulted in a $1 more a month for a single person, and about $3.50 for a family of four.
Also on Thursday, council adopted an amendment to a handicapped parking ordinance.