LEWISBURG — Borough residents will see a 2-mill real estate increase in 2014 while borough government seeks a $750,000 tax and revenue anticipation note, both to cover a budget shortfall going into the new year and to build up the borough’s coffers.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday night for the draft budget, which includes the millage increase, equaling about $200 per every $100,000 of assessed property value in Lewisburg, Councilman Trey Casimir said.
The increase is 1.95 mills to the general fund for 8.93 mills total, and 0.05 mills to the recreation fund for 0.34 mills total.
For the tax anticipation loan — the first one the borough has sought in about 25 years — Lewisburg may borrow up to $750,000 but has no plans to use that much money, Casimir said. It will pay interest only on the amount it uses.
The borough discovered recently it is short of carryover funds to cover the roughly $350,000 per quarter it needs to operate going into first-quarter of 2014. Part of the cause is taxes were not increased over about the past five years to the levels the borough needed, Casimir said recently.
Several borough residents appeared concerned with the borough’s financial situation. Carl Moyer, a resident of Ward 3, asked how Lewisburg got in this spot and specifically about depreciation accounts, which Casimir answered were not funded annually as they should have been.
Depreciation accounts, which cover expenses such as garbage collection and equipment replacement, are meant to be filled over the course of estimated age for equipment to buy and replace as needed, Moyer said.
“It’s really irresponsible to the citizens not to include that money in the budget,” Moyer said. “I know you’ve worked hard to keep taxes down, but a 2-mill increase? It would have been better to increase taxes over years.”
Moyer also asked if council has any plans to replenish the depleted accounts. Casimir said borough-funded street projects will be put off, and council will seek possible state grant funding. But he added it would take about three years for the borough to get the accounts back to where they’re needed.
Casimir will end his service next month with borough council. He did not seek re-election this year.
“We struggled with it,” Casimir said, noting Mayor Judy Wagner and borough manager Chad Smith both reminded council of the impending financial strain on citizens with the minimal tax increases, which were done in part to offset increases from other taxing bodies.