GREENCASTLE — Greencastle Borough Council Monday approved the 2020 preliminary budget with no tax increase — but that could change when the final budget is voted on later this year.
The proposed revenue for the budget is $1,789,960.00 which reflects a 15.00 mill tax rate — the same as 2019.
The proposed expenditures for the budget is $1,861,694.30, which is an increase of $103,963.86 from 2019.
The expected fund deficit, before removing capital expenditures, is $71,734.30.
The budget is "a culmination of countless hours of research, information gathering, analysis and team work among the borough staff," according to Borough Manager Lorraine Hohl.
Hohl said included in the proposed budget includes the addition of a full-time code enforcement officer who will oversee and enforce the borough code, as well as assist the manager with the zoning ordinance and associated permits, inspect all stormwater related infrastructure, assess impervious additions or deletions from rate payer’s parcel and subsequently adjusting their Stormwater Pollutant Impact Fee, manage the stormwater credit program, manage the Sidewalk Maintenance Program and enforce all wastewater policies within the collection system.
In addition, the budget includes a second full-time patrolman in the police department, as well as funds for new portable police radios.
Hohl, however, isn't in favor of not raising taxes in order to balance the budget.
"I recommend that the council approve the proposed 2020 budget with one amendment," Hohl wrote in her budget message to the board.
"The desire to keep the millage rate at 15 is noteworthy, justifiable and does not cause an extreme determent to the general fund balance. However, as it stands, the budget is at a $71,734.30 deficit. Implementing a balanced budget using prior year’s surplus has negative consequences that must be made known," Hohl said.
She explained the challenges of a zero tax increase.
"First, the budget will not be self-sustaining. With already entering with a deficit and anticipating using the general fund balance to pay for current allocations, there is greater risk to the end balance of cash on hand when unintended maintenance is required not previously accounted for. As a direct result, the Borough Council will be forced to use cash further declining the safety net of surplus revenue.
Second, Borough Council has been able to support major projects using the general fund balance over the culmination of years of small surplus revenue. For example, council was able to support a quarter million dollar reconstruction project in order to protect current borough staff. This was using years of surplus to support a current day need.
"Borough Council should not discontinue this philosophy, as we cannot project the future needs and associated costs for safety upgrades, enforcement upgrades, maintenance upgrades and/or infrastructure upgrades that may arise. council must be proactive yet responsible and mindful with surplus in order to ensure quality service for the future.
"I am recommending the council impose a 1mil increase, using less general fund balance to offset the deficit. A 1 mil increase continues to use cash to offset the budget and no surplus, but it does decrease the amount of cash needed for support. This recommendation is more cautious in nature and maintains fiscal responsibility," she said.
Hohl said her recommendation would reduce the projected general fund deficit from $71,734.30 to $20,198.62.
The preliminary budget will be available for inspection during regular business hours for 30 days at 60 N. Washington St., Greencastle.
"If anyone wants to look at it, it's available at Borough Hall," said Council President Steven Miller.
The board is expected to adopt the final budget on Dec. 9.
Contact Andrea Rose at email@example.com or 717-762-2151.