Mechanicsburg Borough Council voted to advertise an ordinance on Tuesday night that would increase the borough’s 2018 millage rate by 17 percent.
The action follows borough council members agreeing on Nov. 21 to advertise the borough’s 2018 budget draft that includes the proposed tax increase. If finalized later this month, the ordinance would raise the borough’s millage rate with fire tax to 3.83 mills, an increase of 0.5 mills.
When borough officials first drafted next year’s $5.109 million preliminary budget, they faced a $500,000 deficit. Borough Manager Roger Ciecierski said officials were able to reduce this by half through cuts, but he did not want to start cut into the money for capital projects because of concerns over the MS4 stormwater requirements.
At a town hall meeting in November, Ciecierski suggested increasing the borough’s millage rate by 0.5 mills. The proposed half-mill tax increase would generate an additional $300,000, which would cover the deficit. Although the proposed millage increase is 17 percent, the proposed increase in overall revenue next year is only 4.5 percent. The borough had no tax increase in 2017.
The borough’s current millage rate is 3.333 mills, meaning that a property owner assessed at $100,000 in the borough pays $333 annually in real estate taxes. With the half-mill increase proposed by borough administrators, the owner of a $100,000 property would pay an additional $50 in real estate taxes next year.
Kyle Miller was the only council member to vote against advertising the millage-rate ordinance. After Tuesday’s meeting, he said the proposed increase is “not necessary or appropriate” and that by his calculations, it would give Mechanicsburg the second-highest municipal tax rate in Cumberland County. New Cumberland’s municipal tax rate is 3.9 mills. “We need to find more creative solutions before we ask our taxpayers for more of their money,” Miller said.
Ciecierski said last month that next year’s figures show “the cost of doing business” in Mechanicsburg. The prices of things are going up and “outside forces” are affecting the budget, he said. For example, health insurance for borough employees is going up 53 percent, he said.
The borough council will vote on finalizing the proposed 2018 municipal budget and millage rate on Dec. 19. Next year’s budget proposals are available for public review on the borough’s website.
In other action, Mechanicsburg Borough Council voted on Tuesday to accept a contractor bid from Rogal Inc. at a cost not to exceed $307,358 for installing new curbs and sidewalks on Market Street. The project will stretch along South Market Street from Simpson to the borough line and also include a portion of Marble Street. Ciecierski said borough officials plan to meet with area homeowners in the near future to discuss details, including a project start date. Work must be completed by June.
Council members also approved a resolution honoring Marlin McCaleb, who is retiring from borough’s zoning hearing board after 40 years of service. The board also approved a resolution honoring the recycling committee for 14 years of service.
Also on Tuesday, borough council heard that the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has issued a notice to proceed to American Abatement Group and sub-contracted BWB Inc. to proceed with work at 203 E. Main St., a condemned home that was damaged by fire in July 2015. The companies will start removing all content from the structure on Dec. 11, followed by asbestos abatement on Dec. 18, according to Rebecca Yearick, the authority’s downtown program services manager/communications manager.
The property sits next to the historic 1801 Frankenberger Tavern. Plans are underway to place community Frankenberger Gardens at the site once it is vacated.