Council Approves $21.94 Million Budget; Borough Taxes Will Increase By 12 Cents
Borough Council recently passed the $21.94 million budget for 2004 by a vote of 4 to 2, with Council members Roger Martindell and Andrew Koontz dissenting. After receiving last-minute funding from the state, taxes will increase by 12 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of land, rather than the 14 cents that was originally predicted by the Borough.
The two-cent reduction was made possible just hours before the July 13 meeting, when the Borough received word that it would be given state aid totalling $250,000, which included $180,000 in state municipal property tax relief and $70,000 from a homeland security fund.
The budget was still significantly larger than the $19.45 million budget in 2003, which raised taxes only four cents from 2002. This year's tax rate will be 84 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, up from 72 cents in 2003.
Known for voting against the budget in previous years, Mr. Martindell held true to the saying he has used at every public hearing on the 2004 budget: "A dollar in the pocket today is more valuable than a dollar in the pocket next year."
He said he would rather provide more tax relief this year than promise taxpayers relief in 2005, as future costs and revenues are always uncertain.
"I don't think we did enough this year to make cuts to the budget," said Mr. Koontz, who recently proposed a tax-relief ordinance that included cutting two officers from the police force and reevaluating the number of meter patrols in the Borough. The ordinance was voted down by all five other Council members, some of whom said it needed to be more thoroughly investigated.
Councilman David Goldfarb said he intends to vote in favor of making changes to the budget later this year that will impact next year's taxes in a positive way: "I'm optimistic that we're going to start doing things that are long, long overdue."
However, one possibility for aiding the budget for 2005 was shut down by five of the six Council members last week when an ordinance to extend meter hours failed.
Under the new tax rate, the average homeowner in the Borough, with a home with an assessed value of approximately $350,000, would pay an estimated $3,000 in annual municipal taxes, compared to $2,500 in 2003. Homes are assessed at about 57 percent of their actual value, said Robert Bruschi, Borough administrator.
Due to a delayed vote on the budget for
2004, the Borough has extended the due date for third-quarter
tax payments from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1.