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.