Council members approved the borough’s 2015 budget by a 4-3 margin Monday night.
The budget results in a deficit of about $1.1 million with revenues of $23.9 million and expenditures of $25 million, documents show. It will be balanced by an allocation of $811,523 from the unreserved fund balance, a one-time transfer of $225,000 from the insurance fund and a one-time transfer of $42,200 from the asset replacement fund.
Council President Jim Rosenberger and Councilmen Evan Myers and Tom Daubert voted against the budget.
The budget also includes a 3.36 mill increase, which is expected to add about $1.5 million, bringing the borough’s millage rate to 14.4 mills.
Never miss a local story.
The proposed increase on a typical home with a market value of $300,000 would be about $13 per month with the homestead exclusion and $20 a month without the homestead exclusion, according to the evening’s agenda.
A 0.25 percent real estate transfer tax also was increased, setting the borough’s realty transfer tax at 1.5 percent. This is expected to bring in about $155,000 in revenue.
The council voted on the millage and real estate tax increase ordinances separately from the budget, with Rosenberger, Myers and Daubert voting against those as well.
Rosenberger attempted to make two motions amending the budget. He proposed delaying the real estate transfer tax increase to fund the Homestead Investment Program at a lower level by not hiring a housing specialist for 2015, and spending the next six months to urge employers to join the program by offering their employees the incentive to purchase homes.
Councilman Peter Morris said he was against postponing HIP any further. Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she agreed with Rosenberger that this was a spot in the budget that warranted further discussion, but didn’t think it should be used to hold up the budget.
The amendment failed a council vote.
When the amendment failed, Rosenberger proposed delaying the full amount of the tax increase, instead proposing to enact a 2.36-mill increase and using the upcoming year to find alternate revenue sources.
Lafer said the proposal sounds good because it would please residents, but it’s not good practice for a business or government to run deeply in the red for too long. Morris likened it to “magical thinking,” saying the council would only be hoping over the next few months that it would be able to pull savings out of the air that would cover the lost mill.
The amendment also failed a council vote.
After the vote, borough resident Dave Stone praised the three council members who stood up against the budget.
“I think enough was said tonight that given that four council people are leaving or are up for re-election, a lot of change can happen in a year,” he said.
After council adjourned, Daubert said he thinks the council will start working on the budget in March rather than waiting till September or October.
“We did our job,” Morris said.