Tax hike whittled down to 9.5%
POTTSTOWN >> The 12 percent tax hike looming in the 2019 budget is looming a little less.
Pottstown Borough Manager Justin Keller told council Wednesday night that staff has whittled it down to 9.46 percent.
He pointed out that the $48.9 million 2019 budget calls for less actual spending than the 2018 budget, and that, as of Oct. 31, spending in 2018 is down in a number of categories over 2017. He ticked them off:
• Administration spending is down 29.2 percent over 2017
• Legal costs are down 16 percent over 2017
• Engineering costs are down
50 percent over 2017
• General government spending is down 50 percent over 2017
• Police overtime is down 20 percent over 2017
• Police court overtime is down 57 percent over 2017
So why are taxes still going up?
Keller laid the blame on two major factors.
The first was the $1 million increase in pension obligations for 2019.
“That one kind of hit us by surprise,” Keller said. The 16 percent increase “is a big number,” he said.
The other was big tax refunds to large commercial properties which had challenged their property assessments and won.
The biggest of those was
the $360,000 the borough has to pay back to the owners of the moribund Pottstown Center shopping center at 799 State St. after the court decision on an assessment challenge.
The good news, if there can be said to be any good news in a 9.5 percent tax hike, is that Pottstown’s assessment roller coaster seem to have leveled out and challenges are diminishing.
Keller said as the budget
stands now, the millage rate will be 12.675 mills, up from the current rate of 11.58 mills.
Council will vote Monday on advertising the budget and new tax rate, after which the tax rate can go down, but not up. Final adoption of the budget is likely to be at the end of December.
The article first appeared as a post in The Digital Notebook blog.