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A cause to celebrate

Published November 25. 2009 05:00PM

Thanksgiving isn't likely to be the only cause for celebration in Palmerton.

Residents will no doubt want to give thanks if borough council, as expected, follows through with a one-mill reduction in property taxes as discussed on Tuesday.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson said current projections show the 2010 budget remains in line to reduce the millage rate by one mill from 9.27 to 8.27 mills.

That would mean the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000, which would be assessed at $50,000, would pay $413.50, down $50.50 from the $464 that person paid to the borough this year.

Also as part of the budget, Danielson said money has been set aside for a new police cruiser. He said the borough purchases a new cruiser on a bi-annual basis.

In addition, he said the budget also calls for the purchase of a piece of lawn equipment, as well as road paving work.

Last month, Councilman Chris Olivia expressed concerns with the condition of several roads in the borough.

Danielson said the borough could have money set aside to surface portions of Residence Park, including Charles Street, Fourth Street, and Edgemont Avenue.

Councilman Brad Doll, whom council earlier in the meeting accepted a letter of resignation from after he was appointed to serve as mayor, said he wasn't sure a one-mill reduction was the way to go.

Doll again questioned whether council planned to hire another full-time police officer from one mill that had previously been designated for that purpose.

"The way grants look, we're not going to get a COPS grant," Doll said. "I think it's (the one mill) a gift we have, and we're not going to get it back."

But, Danielson told Doll the majority of council appears to be in favor of the proposed budget.

"We are trying to maintain with what we've got," Danielson said. "The reason I drafted the budget the way I did is because we are still in an economy we're not one-hundred percent sure of its certainty."

The budget would, however, call for a $10 increase in the monthly sewer rates, Danielson said. He previously noted that council chose not to increase the monthly sewer rate bill last year when it considered an additional $5 charge in an effort to help offset a $6.5 million project to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant and sewage treatment plant.

If the budget receives final approval, the new sewage rates would go into effect Jan. 1.

Last month, council granted tentative approval to the budget. Council plans to grant final adoption when it meets at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.

This year, 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 to the borough, up $75 from the $389 they paid last year.

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.

That came after the borough's Municipal Authority approved a resolution that established new water rates for property owners and consumers who are served by the borough's public water system.

Along with the customer charge came a new water consumption charge that added per quarter for the first 500 cubic feet. A consumption rate of 1,000 cubic feet for the first 500 cubic feet was included in the customer charge, while the next 1,500 cubic feet was $49.50, and over 2,000 cubic feet was $43.42.

Additionally, the resolution amended rates for raw water service. The rate per 1,000 gallons per quarter for the first 8.333.333 gallons was .50, while all additional gallons was .28.

In 2007, council passed a budget that left the property tax rate unchanged. However, that budget raised the monthly sewer rate $5, from $18.50 to $23.50 in a move officials said would help the borough afford an upgrade to its sewage treatment plant.

Also on Tuesday, Councilman Richard Nothstein suggested the borough should consider holding a celebration in honor of its centennial slated for Oct. 14, 2012.

Nothstein also recommended that a memorial for veterans should be included as part of the centennial celebration.

Council President Terry Costenbader told Nothstein he believes his suggestion was a good idea, and then made a motion to appoint Nothstein in charge of the plans.

Finally, Costenbader welcomed Kris Hoffner, who was appointed to a seat on borough council during the election earlier this month.

"Congratulations on your appointment," Costenbader said.

Hoffner thanked Costenbader for his endorsement.

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