Tax increase on the table in Weissport
Weissport Council discussed the possibility of raising taxes by one or two mills to give the borough some funds to fall back on in the event of an emergency during a budget meeting held Monday. Attending the meeting were Arland Moyer, council vice president Sue Pywar and council President Shannon McAward. Council members Steve Mansueto and Tommy McEvilly were absent.
The borough has approximately $145,000 to appropriate.
Secretary Dana Brubaker noted that if taxes were raised one mill, it would generate $5,211 in revenue, while two mills would bring in $10, 422. Each property owner would pay an average of $50 per property with a one mill tax increase, while two mills would raise taxes approximately $100 per property.
Brubaker said that Weissport has 163 taxable properties valued at $5.2 million.
Brubaker said that Weissport has mostly fixed expenses so it is difficult to change categories where money can be allocated.
Brubaker said that in 2009 police are about $5,000 over budget because they did not bring in the full amount of anticipated revenue. She said the mayor had anticipated that police would bring in $12,000 and they brought in $7,000.
Brubaker noted that in 2008, Weissport police were overbudgeted by $24,000 with the entire budget in the red by $30,000. She said to pay bills the borough cashed in three CDs and borrowed $10,000.
"If you over budget or undercollect there is no safety net," warned Brubaker.
She said the 2009 budget has a $3,200 profit for 2009.
"If you remember, we decided to pay back the loan and cut police hours from $28,000 to $18,000, which will provide an average of 144 police hours per month. "By the end of September, there was $2,500 in the budget for police wages and you really need to watch that. There is nothing to fall back on." She noted that council had over estimated the cost of fuel costs in 2009, which offset some of the costs for salary in the police budget.
"I am not anti-police," said Brubaker. "Weissport has a limited tax base. I want to remind you that when people don't pay their taxes or don't pay their garbage, the funds have to come from some place."
Last year, Weissport Council raised taxes three mills, which brought in $150 more or less for each home's assessment valued at $50,000.
Brubaker noted that she has budgeted 20 hours a week for police for 2010.
"In addition to paying salaries, we have another $11,000 to $12,000 in workmen's comp and vehicle insurance," said Brubaker.
McAward said that as soon as the new police car is up and ready, the old car will be sold to get it off the insurance.
"There is no reason to keep it on," said McAward. She said that getting rid of the car would save the borough about $500 a year in insurance. She said that the old police car has little value.
"The budget concerns me," said McAward. "I know people said take funds from somewhere else to increase police hours. Well we have no where else to take it from. It's a fixed budget. The borough lives paycheck to paycheck kind of like a lot of people who live here. As it comes in it goes back out and sometimes we're not receiving what we expected."
McAward said that not raising taxes is all right if nothing big breaks.
"We're so close to the line," said McAward. "For me personally, it's too close. If taxes don't need to be increased, I don't want to see taxes increased, but there is no cushion, even if we keep police hours the same. We still got to be responsible that we can pay these things."
McAward said that she knows that the mayor wants additional hours, but there is no where else to take it from.
"We're working with real numbers," said McAward. "The electric is what it is. Weed control is what it is. We have no where to pull it from. We do need to consider a tax increase. It's on the table."
Council will be voting on a tentative budget in November. Once the budget is tentatively adopted, it will be on display for 30 days and then will be adopted after 10 days after it has been on display.
Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 for a regular meeting.