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Lansford trims some budget expenses

Published December 10. 2009 05:00PM

Lansford borough officials have trimmed some expenses in the 2010 proposed budget, but residents can still expect to see an increase in their property taxes.

During the regularly scheduled meeting of the borough council last night, the board voted to advertise the proposed 2010 budget, which has the property tax set at 24.91 mills, slightly lower than the original 25.11 mills proposed earlier this month.

That means that a person with a home assessed at $25,000 will pay $622.75 in 2010.

According to a memo from council President Robert Gaughan and Nicole Tessitore, borough secretary, the 2010 budget breakdown looks like this: real estate/general operations: 23.38 mills, an increase of 4 mills from 2009; debt service: 1 mill, no increase; street light: 2.25 mills, up .15 mills; fire protection: 1.2 mills, up .1 mill; recreation: .95 mills, up .05 mills; pension: .5 mills, no change; and library: .13 mills, no change. This represents an increase of $164,549 from last year's budget.

Each mill generates $34,057 in revenue for the borough.

In an earlier article published in the TIMES NEWS, it states if everyone in the borough would pay their taxes, an estimated total of $855,171 would be collected. But currently, Lansford's collection rate is 83 percent.

Gaughan said when council started working on the budget in August, the first draft called for more than an 8 mill increase in taxes.

"We made some hard decisions to trim the budget down to what it is," he said, noting that some items cut from the budget include 2010 raises for non-union borough employees, the position of the deputy code enforcement officer and more. "The bottom line is we're still looking at an increase of 4 mills in real estate tax."

A couple of events took place, such as hiring two police officers to bring the full-time officers to six members, that also affected the 2010 budget. According to Tessitore, the cost of salary and contractual benefits for one officer is approximately $55,000 to $60,000.

Other issues include the borough's Minimum Municipal Obligation for the police pension plan, which jumped nearly $30,000, from $68,000 in 2009 to $99,000 in 2010. This calls for a one-mill increase to cover the difference; and health care skyrocketed from $98,000 in 2009 to $198,000 in 2010.

Gaughan said that the borough is currently looking to trim the health care costs by looking at other insurance companies. Right now, the lowest quote received is $135,000.

The proposed budget will now be available for public review at the borough office.

Gaughan said council is scheduled to act on the budget during a special meeting on Dec. 21, at 6 p.m., in the borough office.

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