Today, November 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm, Pottstown Borough Council and borough staff discussed the proposed 2011 borough budget.
I must commend Jason, Janice, Councilor Weand, the Finance Committee and our borough staff for the effort they put into finding ways to cut costs and maintain services. I do not think it is possible to ask Jason a question he can not answer. Janice Lee has more than earned her salary by walking into the abyss aka borough finances and taking the bull by the horns! So much has been accomplished to get our financial house in order. As I said in an earlier post, accounting is boring to write about however, the changes implemented by Jason, Janice and Finance will pay huge dividends down the road. We now have a clearer financial picture than ever before. Frankly, things are not all that bleak now that Generally Accepted Accounting Principals have been returned to borough hall.
Council asked some tough questions of Jason, Janice and the department heads. I was impressed with how well the questions were answered and the manner with which our borough staff handled themselves.
The bottom line is that council unanimously approved the 2011 budget with a 3.1% tax increase. The increase equates to $25.66 per year on a home assessed at $85,000. We have a $177,000 deficit that unfortunately makes this necessary. The increase can go down if more spending cuts are found or unexpected revenue comes in before the end of the year. However, the increase can not go any higher than 3.1%. The projected property tax collection rate is 92% for 2010.
Getting to a zero tax increase would mean selling a park, laying off Parks and Recreation staff, cutting programs or messing with the paid driver’s health benefits in the Fire Department. Our parks are a big plus for existing borough residents and attracting new residents. We can barely maintain our parks system with the staff we have and cutting programs affects the quality of life for our residents. Fire Department drivers can not afford to pay their health benefits at their current salary levels. It is not their fault costs are skyrocketing.
The assessed value of all Pottstown real estate came in a million dollars higher than projected which also helped the process. The rate of decline in assessed property value seems to be leveling off and council is hopeful that this trend may reverse itself as some development projects in the pipeline are completed. Unfortunately, the assessed property value of Pottstown still declined $1.9 million dollars from last year. This brings in less tax revenue.
PCTV has agreed to reduce their management fee to $331,000. The borough can ill afford to absorb their $147,000 revenue shortfall so going forward they need to break even. PCTV has lost revenue because of the recession and now when FIOS comes to Pottstown, Verizon will not allow PCTV to be a for-profit community access channel. PCTV could potentially lose 25% of their viewers as residents switch from Comcast to Verizon. Council will be scrutinizing PCTV very closely in 2011. PCTV is trying to get grant money, however, until such time as a grant is received, they will still continue to struggle.
Just as clarification, the FINAL vote to adopt the budget will NOT COME until the end of the year. The proposal has to be advertised first. The vote last evening was to guarantee that the rate will NOT go any higher than 3.1% but could possibly be lower.
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But this is incorrect. The final vote, as stated before, happens at the end of the year. Council voted on capping the increase only. . .
Roy’s Rants scoops The Mercury, The Pottstown Post, and any other media covering town! Excellent detail and explanations. Well done, Mr. Keeler, on reporting the tentative budget adoption.
I agree with Joe.
I’ve been scooped. I was still writing at midnight and here you were already done.
Good job Roy.
Yeah, but Evan, you are THE workhorse. By my count you’ve been to more budget meetings during the past two weeks than most borough or township managers see in a year.
I know people are going to say that 3.1% is not bad at all. just keep in mind that water rates were just raised and the sewer rates are yet to come. No matter what the increase, this government is just like all others, they have spending addictions. They love to spend other peoples money.
Yet we depend on the Borough for services like Police presence, trash pick-up, etc. Where does the Borough get the money but from the cooperative, namely the residents. Quit your constant beefing.
Since you seem to always have all the answers, why not share them with Borough Council and the rest of us “uninformed” citizenry?
Thanks Joe and Evan! I appreciate your feedback!
Roy you constantly outdo yourself!! I love your style and the way you manage to get the word out!!
This was a great depiction of the necessary information for many people that couldn’t attend the meeting!
Thanks for your efforts and the many hours you log!
Great synopsis Roy, I only disagree with you on the point that staff answered the questions posed to them well…one borough employee did not and, it seems, cannot answer questions thoroughly or without a condescending tone.
As far as 3.1% being good, it’s a hell of a lot more than any raise I’ve gotten lately..and on the heels of the 11% water/sewer increase in the borough, as well as increases in electric rates coming, well, there goes my home improvement budget..guess I’ll join the ranks of the Blighted soon.
MB I understand what you are saying. The overwhelming majority of people did a good job and I wanted to recognize them for their hard work.
Who, pray tell, was the lone condescender? hmmm could it be, let me guess@@@@Chief Flanders? Interesting, his reply to councilman Weand. The preponderance of the evidence as to weather or not he is giving us our monies worth of “Protect and Serve” is up to the taxpayers to prove it to him? EXCUSE ME.
Council is his supervisor and Mr. Weand had every right to speak on behalf of his constituents and every right to expect facts and figures to show his constituents to PROVE that violence and crime are being adequately challenged by our police force. Flanders has an obligation to prove that he is doing his job PERIOD .
People asked HIM for facts and figures at the meeting in the PAL bldg has he delivered? NOT. Our crime stats, published here at Roy’s, are cause for alarm.
Mine is not the only voice in Pottstown wishing Flanders would resign. If he left, I believe the morale – AND performance – of the officers in town would improve dramatically.
Yes, SR I have heard that the morale is very low among the officers and Flanders plays favorites. Those who are not in his favor definitely have a hard time. This is not what we want or need in Pottstown. It is time to peel back the layers and years of bs and get to the heart of it.