Saturday, September 14, 2019

Columbia drafts budget with goal of avoiding another tax increase

When: Council meeting, Sept. 12.
What happened: After getting a first glimpse at its proposed 2020 budget, Borough Council is cautiously optimistic it can avoid a tax increase for the coming year. Council reviewed a first draft of the $7.1 million general fund spending plan during a special budget meeting.
Taxes: The draft budget calls for no property tax increase but does rely on a drawdown of a little more than $1 million from the borough's reserves. Finance Manager Kyle Watts cautioned the numbers are still preliminary because the borough has not yet received its health insurance quotes for the coming year and police contract negotiations are ongoing. Other numbers could also change as more information is received, he said.
Why it matters: The goal is to avoid a tax increase after having raised taxes 21% last year, Council President Kelly Murphy said. To do that, the borough will need to either come up with further spending cuts or use a little more than half of its $2.1 million reserves. Without using any of its reserves, the borough would have to raise property taxes by more than 2.5 mills, which is 31%, to balance the draft expenditure levels.


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