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Lansford borough looking at property tax hike

Published November 24. 2009 05:00PM

Lansford Borough Council's Budget Committee met Monday to hammer out a 2010 spending plan.

Council anticipates approving a budget proposal budget plan when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9; a final spending plan must be adopted by year's end.

Soaring health insurance costs, a new police contract, a rise in police pension costs and fewer people paying their tax bills are adding up to a potential property tax increase.

The health insurance cost increase is projected at nearly $90,000, and borough officials are seeking alternatives.

Now, 13 borough employees carry the insurance at a cost of $187,780 a year.

The property tax now stands at 25.11 mills. Each mill generates $34,057 in revenue.

That means the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 pays $627 a year.

The current millage generates "an estimated $855,171, based on a total local taxable assessed property value equally $34,057,275," borough secretary Nicole Tessitore wrote in a message include in the budget packet.

"It is unfortunate that not all of this is collectable due to delinquent tax payers. As in the past, our annual collection rate is assumed at 83%," she wrote.

Among the recommendations discussed Monday was a 0.15 mill increase in the fire protection tax to cover increasing costs in Workers Compensation and insurance. The increase would also "begin the process to ensure fund solvency," Tessitore said.

The increase would bring the tax to 1.25 mills.

The tax now stands at 1.10 mills and generates $37,462.70.

A 0.10 mill increase in the recreation account was also discussed. The increase, which would bring the levy to 1 mill, is needed to ensure solvency. The recreation account is currently in the red.

Currently, the rate is 0.90 mills, which generates $30,651.30.

The street light tax should also be increased by 0.15 mills, bringing the total to 2.25 mills.

Also, the borough is in the midst of negotiating a new police contract.

Funds have been allocated for four full-time officers, a sergeant and the chief.

Part-time police salaries were reduced at the police chief's request

The Police Pension Minimum Municipal Obligation has increased by $32,000, creating about a 1-mill increase.

The budget allocates $10,000 for a demonstration police cruiser, as Council had approved earlier this year.

Council's Municipal Administration Committee has recommended a 2-percent raise for non-union employees.

The committee has also recommended eliminating the deputy code enforcement officer position, and an increase was proposed in the administrative clerk's hours, from 20-25 to 35 a week.

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