Pre­lim­i­nary bud­get shows tax hike for Rock­ledge res­i­dents

The Globe - - OPINION - By Joe Bar­ron

Rock­ledge Bor­ough Coun­cil Mon­day voted t o ad­ver­tise a $ 1.9 mill i on bud­get f or 2013 t hat i ncludes an 18.6 per­cent prop­erty t ax i ncrease.

“No one wants t o do i t , but at t his t i me, i t ’s t he pru­dent move t o make,” coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ja­son Show­maker said be­fore t he vote.

Un­der t he pro­posed i ncrease, a home­owner with a prop­erty as­sessed at t he bor­ough av­er­age will pay an ad­di­tional $ 150 i n prop­erty t axes next year, f or a t otal bill of $ 952.50, ac­cord­ing to bor­ough f i gures. The i ncreased mil­lage will r aise an ex­tra $ 100,000 in r ev­enue f or Rock­ledge in 2013, Bor­ough Man­ager Grace Met­zinger said. Bud­geted ex­pen­di­tures will r i se f r om $ 1.73 mil­lion to $ 1.85 mill i on, with a f und bal­ance of $ 61,605.68.

The l argest ex­pense driv­ing t he t ax i ncrease is t he un­funded man­date f or po­lice pen­sions, Show­maker said. Cur­rently, ac­cord­ing to Met­zinger, t he amount of t he man­date stands at $ 425,000, and in t he pro­posed bud­get, t he min­i­mum mu­nic­i­pal obli­ga­tion f or po­lice pen­sions j umps f r om $ 15,000 f or 2012 to $ 75,000 f or 2013.

I n ad­di­tion t o pen­sion obli­ga­tions, t he bor­ough’s cap­i­tal r es­erve has been de­pleted, and i n 2014, as a r esult of a county man­date, t he bor­ough will be r espon­si­ble f or r eplac­ing its po­lice r adio sys­tem, Show­maker said.

“We have t o … keep an eye on our l i ne i t ems and cut where we can,” he added.

The 2013 bud­get is avail­able f or i nspec­tion at t he bor­ough build­ing, 121 Huntingdon Pike, and coun­cil mem­bers have sched­uled t heir vote on Dec. 10.

In other busi­ness Mon­day, coun­cil voted to t r ans­fer $ 100,000 f r om t he bor­ough’s f und ac­count to t he po­lice pen­sion f und.

Po­lice Chief Ger­ald Miller r eminded r es­i­dents t hat t he hol­i­day sea­son i s also t he sea­son when t he i nci­dence of bur­glary i ncreases, and he urged r es­i­dents t o call county dis­patch at 215- 379- 8800 if t hey no­tice any­thing sus­pi­cious in t heir neigh­bor­hoods.

Coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Michael Praedi­ger t han­ked r e s i dents f or t heir pati e nce r e gardi ng bor­ough leaf c ol - l e c t i ons a nd said t he a mount of l e a ves t hi s

t he bud­get

f or year has been over­whelm­ing. Truck crews have spent en­tire work­days col­lect­ing l eaves on half a block, when i n pre­vi­ous years, t hey could cover t hree streets in t he same amount of t i me, he said.

“They are do­ing ab­sol utely ev­ery­thing t hey can,” he said.

Oak t r ees ap­pear t o be t he pri­mary source of t he ad­di­tional vol­ume, Coun­cil­man Brian Corr i gan said. Gen­er­ally, oaks shed t heir l eaves grad­u­ally t hrough t he au­tumn, he said, but high winds t his year have r i pped t he l eaves f r om t he branches all at once.

“The l eaves have put up a good f i ght t his year,” Praedi­ger said.

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