Funding largely to be used for building repairs, infrastructure
Despite not raising taxes last year, Pennsburg Borough Council agreed Tuesday night to a $1.5 million budget that would include a .4 mill tax increase for residents.
The final budget will be officially voted on at the borough’s Dec. 6 meeting.
In 2010, the borough tax hike brought in about $15,000. But for 2012, borough officials said they faced too many looming expenditures to put off another increase.
Any budget category that exists is a necessity, and the bare necessity at that, officials said. And like any business, Council President John Lear explained, part of the borough’s responsibility is to maintain the infrastructure of the borough building and abide by the health and safety standards set by state regulations. Mold damage in the interior of the building, cracked window panes, a 12-year-old roof, bats, broken heaters, and water damage all plague the borough offices and Upper Perk police department headquarters on W. 5th Street.
“It’s been an uphill battle,” Lear expressed, recognizing that there are no other ways to pay for the necessary repairs than to ask Pennsburg citizens to contribute.
Due to the current economic climate, each member of the council expressed genuine concerns for placing a tax burden on already-struggling residents, especially those that are unemployed or on a fixed income.
“Too many people are already hurting,” stated Councilman Bruce Lord, after examining the proposal that suggested a $30-$60 tax increase, depending on real estate assessed value.
The general consensus of council was summed up by Councilman Kristopher Kirkwood: “It’s cheaper to do things today than tomorrow.”
If the borough continues to hold off correcting the damages and allows for further deterioration, there will be massive crisis spending, officials agreed. This will take an increased amount of money out of pockets instantaneously, instead of over a longer period of time in smaller increments.
The additional tax income will be spent on street maintenance, repairs and renovations to the borough building, and loan payments, totaling $48,399.20. Additionally council suggested a $7,500 roof fund that would be invested in annually for an eight-year period, or until the roof needs an overhaul.
The work to transition the borough offices from the first floor to the second floor will be completed in part by Wil Hallman and Bob Christman as part of an in-kind agreement, borough officials said. The borough will be funding improvements to make the bathrooms and entrance handicapped-accessible and other minor improvements.
Council voted to advertise the tentative 2012 budget of $1,541,672 in revenue and expenditures. The new tax levy ordinance will be officially voted on at the Dec. 6 meeting.
“We have saved what we could and spent wisely with what we have. Tough decisions have to be made...the longer we wait the worse it gets,” Lear summarized during the meeting.
Council later agreed to move forward with air quality testing by Criterion Laboratories for the borough building at a cost of $1,360. No date has been set for the start of testing.
A motion was also approved to spend $3,000 on bat remediation for the borough building by Raifsniders Exterminating of Telford. Officials said the company with repair and seal any cracks in the building’s windows or surfaces which are allowing the bats to get in and out. The company will also install one-way air vents.