HATBORO — After laboring to close a sizable projected shortfall in next year’s municipal budget, the borough revealed last week the official tax impact those efforts could have.
The borough council Nov. 5 approved a preliminary budget for 2019 that calls for a 4.4 percent increase in the municipal tax rate for residents.
Council President George Bollendorf said this would entail a $79 increase in taxes for a homeowner with a home assessed at the borough average of $122,000.
The $7.3 million budget calls for a millage increase from 8.79 mills to 9.23 mills. A mill equates to $1 in taxes per $1,000 in assessed property valuation.
The budget will be voted on in final form at the Dec. 3 council meeting.
The borough was originally faced with a $700,000 shortfall in the 2019 budget based on revenue projections and what some borough officials called poor financial planning over the last several years.
The current budget summary shows preliminary revenue for 2019 of $6,847,673 and expenditures of $7,335,584, which equates to a shortfall of $487,911.
The council voted last month to dissolve the five-member borough authority, giving it full rights to the organization’s $3 million in assets. The council expects to use $400,000 to help balance the new budget. The remainder would be invested.
Officials say this budget cycle will see the beginnings of a more concerted effort toward better financial planning going forward. The borough also will begin to address neglected areas, such as creating an allocated fund for police retirement payouts and improvements to the borough hall building.
Some form of tax impact was expected as the new budget was being worked on, given the shortfall and the need to fund neglected services and programs. Officials said the tax impact could have been significantly higher had they not had the option of acquiring the borough authority’s assets.
The authority was formed 20 years ago as a trust to oversee money from the sale of the borough’s water company to Aqua. The borough had tapped into those funds over the years to pay for a variety of capital improvements. In 2016, the borough requested a $2 million loan from the authority for the police station, which resulted in an annual payment to the authority in the amount of $134,000.
With the borough authority’s dissolution, the $134,000 that would have been paid next year is no longer an obligation and can be applied to help with next year’s budget, Bollendorf said.
The borough also will be seeking a $700,000 short-term loan, also known as a tax anticipation note. This loan covers revenue needs before tax revenue from the borough is realized in the new year.