EXETER – After weeks of interdepartmental wrangling and community discussions, Exeter residents now know exactly what kind of property tax increase they can expect.
Borough Council by a vote of 4-3 passed a balanced $1.46 million budget at a special budget meeting Tuesday night with a property tax increase from 1.07 mills to 1.45 mills.
With debt service fees factored into the property tax rate, the total amount property owners will pay will be 1.8 mills.
A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
Previous reports on Exeter's finances incorrectly listed the current property tax rate as 1.03 mills.
Council President Denise Adams was joined by council members Joseph Pizano, John Morgan and Betty Ann DeRoberto in accepting the budget. Council members Larry Dellegrotto, Joseph Esposito and Thomas Shannon voted against.
After the meeting, Dellegrotto and Esposito said they believed further cuts could have been made to lessen the tax increase. Esposito declined to get specific, but said every department could have trimmed more from its respective budget.
Dellegrotto said he thought the budget was unrealistic. He cited vendor fees that were budgeted as $2,000 in revenue for 2012. In actuality, the borough did not collect any funding from vendor fees, yet the category was again budgeted for $2,000 for 2013. He also felt that the projected revenues from sewer hookups were roughly $5,000 too high.
Pizano cited his desire to refrain from cutting essential services such as police and fire coverage.
The council also passed by a 5-1 vote a measure to borrow $185,403 from the refuse fund to pay that amount of debt to the sewer fund. The $185,403 will be repaid to the refuse fund over the course of 10 years at no interest.
DeRoberto was absent for the vote, while Dellegrotto cast the lone vote against.
HARVEYS LAKE – After several months of debating whether the borough police department should be relocated, council voted Tuesday to keep the station at its present Route 415 location.
A special meeting was held Monday evening by the Harveys Lake Protective Association in order to hear both sides of the issue. Council President Larry Radel gave the position to move the department to a former recreation center on Little League Road.
Councilwoman Michell'e Boice opposed, saying the police department should remain at the borough's main entrance. In a straw poll of the residents who attended the special meeting, the unanimous decision was to keep the department at its present site.
Boice said the department needs to be highly visible and easily accessible.
Also, the borough has received a $78,000 LSA grant from the gaming commission. The grant was to be used for renovations if the department were to be moved to the new location. Council will now have to resubmit the paperwork to the state Department of Community and Economic Development to use the grant for renovations to the existing building.
In other matters, council approved the revised version of the 2013 budget, which increases the property tax by one-tenth of 1 mill, from .604 mills to .704 mills in 2013 to support the approximately $1.1 million spending plan, which includes a $630 deficit.
EXETER – The Wyoming Area School Board on Tuesday presented a preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
Although the final budget won't be adopted until June, a resolution presenting the proposed spending plan needs to be approved by February if the district is to retain the option of increasing taxes.
By no means would this lock us into a tax increase, said Tom Melone, district business manager, but it would allow that option to remain open.
Melone said the budget is still in its preliminary stages.
The proposed budget reflects an expense over revenue amount of $558,000.
Superintendent Ray Bernardi said the district was reviewing security measures and would be working with other municipalities in order to maximize student safety.
In another matter, John Bolin, newly elected president of the board, appointed chairpersons to board committees.
Mary Louise Degnan, named head of the bidding committee, voiced concerns over the appropriateness of his selection.
This is not my field of expertise, said Degnan, I think I would be more effective on the policy committee.
Bolin responded by saying that the chairpersons reflected his opinion on who best fit the roles.
B. Garrett Rogan Susan Bettinger Geri Gibbons