CLARKS GREEN – Residents in the borough will not face a tax increase in the proposed 2016 budget, according to discussions at the regular borough council meeting Nov. 18.
“We are proposing no increases in taxes or fees,” said Chair of the Finance Committee Alan Hughes regarding the proposed 2016 budget, which will be posted on the borough’s webpage before council votes on the budget in December.
The real estate tax will remain at 15 mills, according to Hughes. The 2016 budget does show a net income of negative $77,571.46 which includes items council discussed previously for several culvert projects in 2016 that could cost the borough approximately $100,000.
Hughes said there are three reasons the borough would pass a budget with a negative net income without any tax increases. First, that the borough has a “healthy surplus” in its general checking account of approximately $263,000; and second, the estimated the surplus for 2015 will bring an additional $40-50,000; and finally, that the increase in estimated expenses for 2016 is due to one-time needed repairs.
“That surplus (from 2015) will cover most of the anticipated deficient for 2016,” Hughes said.
The borough’s DPW crew estimated the repairs at approximately $87,540. The proposed budget places $75,000 in sewer repair and maintenance and $50,000 to road repair and maintenance. Hughes said it’s also possible that the borough may only need to repair two of the three culverts, and that the borough’s DPW recommended it would be the most cost effective to complete the projects at once in the same year rather than spreading them out.
Council member Joe Barrasse asked for a $10,000 increase in the public and safety budget to begin reserving funds to fix the traffic signal at Abington Road and Grove Street.
Hughes said the budget proposes the $10,000 increase from the capital account instead, so rather than putting it in a line item budget, if the money is not used in 2016 it will go into the general fund surplus.
Fixing the traffic signal may cost approximately $31,000 and council is “trying to mark money in the budget this year and next year to give us about 50 percent of what’s needed,” Barrasse said of the budget increase, even though the signal may not be fixed for another two years. He said if council can show 50 percent of the cost, they may be able to apply for a grant for the remainder of the cost.
“Otherwise, I don’t know how we’ll throw another $31,000 on top of our budget,” Barrasse said.
Council member Maureen Palmer asked council to consider finding another way to get the money or borrow if necessary to fix the traffic light issue sometime before the next two years. “I think it’s a huge issue,” Palmer said.
Barrasse said, “The loops under the ground were improperly installed…and the way it’s set right now we have a setting that has to conform with the state,” so the borough will be better to complete the project using its own funds instead of trying to make a case to the state to change the timing of the lights.
“The state is not going to allocate more seconds to Grove Street and take seconds away from Abington Road,” said Hughes.
In other news, council voted 6-0 to appoint Joan D’Oro to fill the remainder of late council member Barry Phillips position through 2015. D’Oro was also elected as a Republican in the primary and will begin her term on Clarks Green Borough council in 2016.
“I’ve lived here for almost 20 years, and now I have time to participate. We live in a wonderful place,” D’Oro said.
Council also voted 6-0 to accept the resignation of Pam Osborne from council since Osborne moved out of the Borough of Clarks Green.