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No hike in taxes expected in Lehighton

Published November 24. 2009 05:00PM

Lehighton Borough Council last night gave approval to a tentative budget which "reflects no increase in electric rates, garbage fee, sewer fee, and no tax increase."

The passage was unanimous, with final adoption scheduled Dec. 21.

Lehighton hasn't had a tax increase since 2006 when the tax rate was increased by 2.5 mills, to the current rate of 4.25 mills.

Although the budget retains existing electric rates, Borough Treasurer Ann Wilhelm stated in her written report to the borough council, "The Light & Power Fund is aware that costs to purchase electricity could increase, and could potentially adversely affect the 2010 budget. To date, no additional data is available to define these cost increases."

The borough purchases electricity wholesale and resells it to borough residents and businesses. It owns its own transmission lines in the borough.

The revenues sustained from reselling electricity help to subsidize the general budget.

Wilhelm informed the council that the budget retains present rates event though, "The General Fund budget anticipates a reduction in state and federal subsidies. Current wage and benefits are expected to increase as defined in respective union agreements. Benecon has advised us that health costs will increase by 8.5 percent."

The borough has managed to retain the tax rate despite several ongoing major projects.

Among them is the conversion of the first floor of Station 2 of the Lehighton Fire Department into a police station.

The bids for the project total $261,298.19.

The borough also, last year, completed the remodeling of the Lehighton Municipal Swimming Pool, a project which cost over $900,000.

Both projects were attained with assistance from state funding.

The pool project also had a boost from money raised by a community group, Lehighton Area Pool Pals.

The proposed 2010 budget is balanced at nearly $11-million.

The breakdown is as follows:

• General fund - $2,937,145.

• Capital Projects fund - 0.

• Light & Power fund - $6,074,757.

• Sewer fund - $1,867,272.

• Highway Aid fund - $115,851.

• Total - $10,995,025.

The proposed budget shows receipts and expenditures to be $2.6 million less than the current budget.

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