On Tuesday night, Mechanicsburg Borough Council agreed to publicly advertise the borough’s 2018 budget draft with a proposed tax increase of 17 percent, but the vote was split 5-2.

Borough manager Roger Ciecierski said earlier this 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.

When borough officials first drafted next year’s $5.109 million preliminary budget, they faced a $500,000 shortfall. Ciecierski said they were able to reduce that by half due to cuts, but he hadn’t wanted to start cutting into the money for capital projects, especially with concerns over the MS4 stormwater requirements.

At a town hall meeting this month, 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. He said that while the proposed millage increase is 17 percent, the proposed increase in overall revenue 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.

Council members Mark Stoner and Kyle Miller voted against advertising the draft budget on Tuesday. Stoner said he wasn’t voting against the budget proposal, but rather voting against advertising it at this time. “I’m not sure if all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed,” he said.

Miller said in part that he voted against the proposal because “it doesn’t seem we’re doing a lot of (fiscal) planning” for the future.

Councilman John Anthony, who voted in favor of advertising the draft budget, introduced a proposal on Tuesday night that would siphon portions of next year’s fiscal plan into an unspecified reserve fund. The matter will be discussed at a special meeting scheduled for Nov. 28. The council is scheduled to finalize next year’s fiscal plan in December.

Also on Tuesday, the borough council approved rates for the Mechanicsburg Area Community Pool for the 2018 season that includes an active military daily rate discount of $5 and a Santa Special general discount period from Dec. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2018. Early bird purchase rates will be available from Jan. 2 through April 27, after which regular rates will apply. Tickets are available for purchase at the Mechanicsburg Recreation Department, 1731 York St.

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