Monday, November 30, 2009

Revenue sources are like an orange that's been juiced

For the past month, Elizabethtown Borough Council has been working on the borough's 2010 budget, and it hasn't been a pretty picture. In short, the budget at the moment has a deficit of $375,000 -- but each councilman and the borough's staff are working tirelessly to reduce that amount and find ways to cut spending where it can be cut and squeeze additional revenues from sources that are like an orange that's already been juiced.

Because the country is in the midst of the worst recession in decades -- some would say we've teetered on the brink of another Great Depression -- revenue from sources such as the earned income tax and real estate transfer tax is way down. On top of this, the borough has pension requirements that it must fulfill under state law -- without adequate support from the state.

These are issues nearly every other municipality in Lancaster County is facing; rest assured Elizabethtown is not alone.

While it is true that it would take a tax increase of 20 percent to balance the budget as presented -- Borough Council is NOT considering such a hefty tax increase. The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era's editors did the borough a disservice with a headline that screamed as such -- but no member of council is willing to place that kind of burden on the taxpayers of the community, especially given the dire economic straits in which many find themselves.

Borough Council discussed the budget for several hours at its November workshop meeting, and we have directed the borough staff to find additional cuts for each department. We are doing everything within our power to minimize the impact on taxpayers -- and we will discuss all options at our workshop meeting Thursday.

Council's plan is to have the details worked out by the end of the meeting Thursday so the borough staff can present a final budget for approval on Dec. 17.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Councilman elected as mayor

In the Tuesday, Nov. 3, election Elizabethtown Borough Councilman Chuck Mummert was elected as mayor, replacing Mayor Bob Brain who did not run again.

Mummert is completing his first term on Borough Council and ran unopposed after defeating a Republican challenger in the spring primary.

Having served with the mayor-elect for the past two years, I supported Mummert in his election and fully believe that he will be a great leader for the community. To Mayor Brain, I wish him well as he pursues other interests in his retirement. He has been a great advocate for Elizabethtown, and he will be missed.

In related election news, Neil Ketchum ran unopposed to fill Mummert's vacancy on Borough Council, and was officially elected to the post on Tuesday. He has been a member of the borough planning commission for several years, and if his service is any indication he will bring a tremendous amount of insight and leadership to Borough Council.