It's virtually certain that Summit Hill residents will see a real estate tax increase in 2009, but it probably won't be by two mills as originally discussed.
At a budget meeting held Thursday night, the council said it has made some cuts in expenditures that it will have to raise the taxes by only 1.5 mills, including a half mill for the building project.
"There's really not much more we can do," said councilman John Shemansik.
Borough Treasurer Kira Michalik said if the taxes increase by just one mill, there would be a deficit of $35,193.95 in income versus expenditures.
There are three main contributors to the tax increase for the community of 2,974 residents:
Ÿ Health insurance costs are rising from $67,689.96 in 2009 to $99,205.92 in 2010. Affected are eight employees and their families.
Ÿ A 30 percent increase is anticipated in electric rates. Councilman Mike Kokinda said this amount could actually total 36 percent.
Ÿ Legal expenses, above the usual solicitor fees, are budgeted at $14,388.73 for 2010. No such fee is listed in the current budget. The listing of the fee indicates the borough plans to proceed with legal action against firms involved in the building project. The project was the construction of a new borough hall, fire station, and community center.
Only one borough resident attended the budget session. Joe Barone, who lives in the White Bear district, suggested that generator changes could net a 10 percent savings to the borough.
Council President Joe Weber thanked Barone for the suggestion and said he will look into the potential of such a savings.
Barone also suggested that lights be removed from "areas where it's useless" such as White Bear Drive. Councilman Mike Alabovitz said that since the lights are already located there, removing them could put the borough at a liability risk in the event of an accident.
Barone, who moved into Summit Hill about three years ago, said he was surprised there weren't more residents in attendance for the budget workshop.
"You're talking about a two-mill increase and I'm the only one here," he said. "There's something wrong. There's a disconnect somewhere."
The council is hoping to wrap-up the budget discussion at another workshop meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30.
If all goes as planned, the budget would be presented for tentative adoption at it's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8. A special meeting will be called for final budget adoption.
The budget workshop figures show that real estate taxes netted the borough $518,107.08 in 2009. A 1.5 mill increase will bring this total to $597,069.50.
If the budget is adopted as was discussed, the real estate tax rate would rise to 13.6 mills. This includes 1.5 mills for street lighting, 11.6 mills for general purposes, and a half of a mill for fire protection.
Council members noted that it was always intended to raise taxes by a half mill for the building project in 2010.