Sunday, October 31, 2010

$15M in grants fund various projects in E-town and surrounding area

Now that the municipal budgeting season has arrived, all eyes for Borough Council members and the people they represent will be on the bottom line of the budget. And most likely, everyone will want to know if there will be a tax increase or not. At the moment, it's way too early to tell since councilmen just received draft copies of the budget this weekend to review.

It is an appropriate time, though, to discuss some of the great projects that are happening in and around Elizabethtown -- all funded through federal and state grants. In all, it's about $15 million for some  projects that borough tax dollars are not financing. All of these will be quality improvements to the community's infrastructure.

Elizabethtown Train Station, with overflow parking facilities -- $9.3 million
This project, which we anticipate will be completed by June 2011, is funded by the federal stimulus, also known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

West College Avenue Phase II -- $3.7 million
Money for this project, which will include the construction of a bridge over the Conoy Creek, is coming from the Federal Highway Administration. It has been advertised for bids, which will be opened in November. If all goes as planned, it will be done by October 2012.

Center Square Renovation Project -- $350,000
Plans to upgrade and renovate Center Square have been on the books for some time, and the funding is from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Hometown Streets program.

Traffic signal synchronization -- $760,000
As I wrote about previously, all of the traffic signals in the Elizabethtown area are slated for upgrades and synchronization. This regional project -- the borough, Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township all are working together -- is funded by state and county grants.

Downtown Pathways projects -- $850,000
Various phases of this have been awarded $250,000 by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, $100,000 in Urban Enhancement funds from Lancaster County and $600,000 in Redevelopment and Capital Assistance Program.

College Avenue/Market Street intersection improvements -- $151,000
Lancaster County's Urban Enhancement funds are also financing this project, which will be done after the construction of the bridge and West College Avenue.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sewer rates increase

Elizabethtown Borough Council raised sewer rates by 16 percent earlier this month. The increase means the price per quarter for residents will rise from $63 to $73.

Council took action after a presentation earlier this fall that showed expenses outpacing revenues at the borough's sewage treatment plant.

The borough last raised sewer rates in 2004, when they increased from $48 to $63 per quarter.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Borough Council wants your thoughts in this tough budget year

As Borough Council begins the budgeting season for 2011, we are facing an extreme situation the likes that many of us have never seen. In fact, my fellow Councilman Meade Bierly said earlier this month that he had never seen in his 40 years on Borough Council a budget as tough as last the one we approved for 2010.

It looks as though this year we might face an even tougher year.

Revenue predictions for next year from the Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau are way down -- and this year the bureau advised municipalities countywide not to expect much from the collection of the earned income tax.

Last year, Elizabethtown's borough staff did a great job working on a bare-bones budget that Borough Council asked them to cut even further. In the end, we approved the budget without a tax increase.

We have just started to develop the 2011 budget, and we would like residents' input on priorities for services Elizabethtown provides -- especially in these challenging economic times.

As we've said on the borough's website, "costs (fuel, insurance, labor, electricity to name a few) continue to rise as revenues fall. Under these circumstances, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the same level of service to the community at the current tax rate."

We would like your thoughts on the following questions: 
  • Do you wish services that are provided for the community such as law enforcement, fire, street paving, parks, and code enforcement to be maintained at current levels in 2011?
  • If you wish all services to remain at current levels of service, do you feel that Borough Council should increase taxes to cover the costs of these services?
  • If not, which of the many services provided to the community should be reduced in scope?
  • What services do you feel are essential and should not be reduced or cut under any circumstance?
  • Should fees for services such as pavilion rentals, trash tag sales, code enforcement and dog recovery be increased beyond their associated costs to provide additional revenue?
I know that all of us on Borough Council are appreciative of any feedback we get from the public on these issues during the budgeting season. If you like, you can post your comments here at Chronicling Elizabethtown, and I will pass them on the the rest of Borough Council and the staff to ensure that your voice is heard. Or, you can send an e-mail with your comments directly to the borough at To ensure that we can consider comments in time for the budget, please send all responses, whether it's here at the blog or directly to the borough, by Nov. 24.