Downingtown discusses preliminary budget
Council members will vote later on proposed $11 million spending plan
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.