After holding the line for 2010, Elizabethtown Borough Council adopted the borough's 2011 budget Dec. 16 with a tax increase of eight-tenths of a mill, bringing the total rate to 5 mills.
That means the average property owner with an assessed value of $150,000 will see $120 increase in taxes for 2011.
The vote was 6-0 in favor of spending plan, but Councilman Tom Shaud took a long pause before casting his roll call vote to say that the increase will have a significant impact on him as a blue-collar worker. But, he said, the work of the borough must continue. Councilman Neil Ketchum said at the end of the meeting that in his year on Borough Council the budget vote was his most difficult decision.
The tax increase was necessary as the borough faced a deficit of $340,000 thanks to revenue projections for the earned income tax that are lower than in years past. The current economy and high unemployment rate contribute to lower collections in the tax.
I personally did receive correspondence from some residents who said the borough needs to maintain its current level of service while also not increasing taxes. Only two people attended Thursday's council meeting, and just one spoke out against the tax increase.
It's worth noting again that the 2011 budget does not include nearly $15 million in projects funded through a number of grants that Elizabethtown has been fortunate to receive. Throughout 2011, residents will see a number of these projects start or be completed, all with little or no impact on municipal budgets.