Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One of E-town Borough Council's most important meetings on Thursday

Photo courtesy of the Ephrata Review
This Thursday night, Elizabethtown Borough Council will approve the borough's 2015 budget. Council meets every third Thursday, but I consider this meeting in December to be one of the most important of the year because of the budget. We also vote on the millage rate to establish what property owners will pay in property taxes.

Unfortunately, this week a family responsibility conflicts with the meeting, and I will not be able to attend. It's disappointing because my fellow council members and I have spent hours in many meetings combing through the budget to find savings and figure out how best to fund Elizabethtown for next year and into the future. Part of this will most likely include a tax increase of two-tenths of a mill (raising the rate from 5 to 5.2).

Because I won't be at the meeting, I have asked the borough staff and council President J. Neil Ketchum to read the following statement during the meeting.

The third Thursday in December is always an important time for Elizabethtown Borough Council because it is when we approve the borough's budget for the upcoming year. In my seven years on Borough Council, I have not missed one of these meetings. Tonight, however, I have a family obligation that unfortunately trumps my duties as an elected official. Although I can not be there for the official vote on the budget and related actions, I am writing to ensure that my support of the 2015 budget is on the record. After many hours of meetings and discussions, it is clear to me that a tax increase of two-tenths of a mill is necessary so that the borough will be better positioned financially in years to come. I firmly believe this is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Meanwhile, it is not lost on me that the average taxpayer in the borough will pay $30 more in property taxes. We have done what we can to minimize that impact while also ensuring that the borough can conduct its business and operations in the way taxpayers expect. Thank you, and I wish my council colleagues, the borough staff and the residents of Elizabethtown a happy holiday season!

The tax increase -- the first for the borough government since 2011 -- will help the borough fund its capital reserves. During the summer, Borough Council adopted a financial policy that includes a goal of reaching $1 million in capital reserves by 2020. The ultimate goal is to have some additional funds there so the borough will be in a position to do projects in the future that might need a significant outlay of cash.

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