Down­ing­town dis­cusses pre­lim­i­nary bud­get

Coun­cil mem­bers will vote later on pro­posed $11 mil­lion spend­ing plan

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gin­ger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

DOWN­ING­TOWN >> Down­ing­town Bor­ough Coun­cil has plans to adopt the pro­posed 2017 bud­get of $11 mil­lion with­out a tax in­crease.

The six coun­cil mem­bers dis­cussed the bor­ough’s pre­lim­i­nary pro­posed bud­get on Wed­nes­day.

“We have been work­ing hard on an­other no tax in­crease bud­get for 2017,” said bor­ough Manager Stephen Sullins.

The last tax in­crease was in Jan­uary 2013 when the bor­ough in­creased the mill­age rate from 7 to 7.65 mills. A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 of as­sessed prop­erty value.

Down­ing­town Mayor Josh Maxwell also praised the staff and coun­cil for their ef­forts to present a bud­get with­out a tax in­crease for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year.

Sullins cred­ited De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Jack Law with cost sav­ings, es­pe­cially for elec­tri­cal and en­ergy funds. He noted that the bor­ough is sav­ing money by using LED lights for its traf­fic sig-

nals and street lights. Sullins said that the bor­ough has saved about $80,000 to $90,000 since they rene­go­ti­ated their elec­tri­cal con­tract.

“It’s a huge sav­ings in the long run,” Sullins said.

Coun­cil­woman Ann Feld­man ques­tioned the $30,000 fund for the Down­ing­town Main Street As­so­ci­a­tion, a non­profit. Coun­cil Pres­i­dent An­thony “Chip”

Gazzerro and Maxwell said that the as­so­ci­a­tion more than matches the con­tri­bu­tion given to them for bor­ough projects.

Maxwell added that lo­cal govern­ments help fund non­prof­its that do work for that gov­ern­ment, such as feed­ing the home­less and build­ing hous­ing projects. He said mu­nic­i­pal govern­ments help fund non­prof­its such as fire com­pa­nies to have the equip­ment to put out fires. He said the bor­ough as­sists the Down­ing­town Li­brary and the two fire com­pa­nies – Min­quas

and Alert, which make up the Down­ing­town Fire De­part­ment serv­ing Down­ing­town and East Caln. He said such vol­un­teer work saves tax­pay­ers money in hav­ing those ser­vices pro­vided by vol­un­teers.

“That’s something that I’m par­tic­u­larly proud of in this com­mu­nity,” Maxwell said.

He said it is sim­i­lar with Main Street which has mem­bers fundrais­ing for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. The bor­ough has as­sisted the or­ga­ni­za­tion with funds for sev­eral years.

Maxwell said he is proud of the vol­un­teerism of the fire­fight­ers, li­brary di­rec­tors, Main Street mem­bers and oth­ers. He said their work is done at lit­tle cost to the bor­ough which is why taxes have not in­creased.

“Our com­mu­nity is lucky to have a non­profit Main Street As­so­ci­a­tion which raises money on its own,” Maxwell said.

Gazzerro also praised the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Main Street hosts sev­eral events such as “I love Down­ing­town,” as­sisted with the Sum­mer Jam series, helped with a tree light­ing cer­e­mony for the win­ter hol­i­days, as­sisted a dozen busi­ness own­ers who were dis­placed by a fire last year, as­sisted bor­ough staff last year to re­view park­ing me­ter plans and more.

“You can’t put a price tag on what they do or the amount of hours they put in,” Gazzerro said about Main Street vol­un­teers.

Gazzerro and Fi­nan­cial Di­rec­tor Kerry Elt­man both said the bor­ough has a “great bond rat­ing.”

Coun­cil voted 5 to 1, with Feld­man dis­sent­ing, to ad­ver­tise the bud­get with the in­tent to adopt. The pro­posed bud­get will be avail­able for re­view at Bor­ough Hall at 4 W. Lan­caster Ave. The 2017 bud­get will be voted on dur­ing coun­cil’s Dec. 7 meet­ing.

Gazzerro thanked Elt­man, Sullins, Law, Down­ing­town Po­lice Chief Howard Hol­land, the coun­cil mem­bers and oth­ers for their ef­forts to work on the bud­get and to be able to present a bal­anced bud­get dur­ing the bud­get dis­cus­sion. He said with in­creased costs for in­sur­ance and oth­ers ser­vices, for ex­am­ple, he ap­pre­ci­ated that the staff could help with bud­get­ing.

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