Bellefonte approves budget with small tax increase

Bellefonte residents will notice a small increase in their municipal taxes in 2014.

Borough Council passed a budget 5-2 on Monday night with one seat vacancy and Councilman Paul DeCusati absent. Councilman and Mayor-elect Tom Wilson and Councilwoman Renee Brown voted against the budget.

The $3.24 million budget includes a 0.7 mill tax increase, which would amount to about $30 per year for the average homeowner.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart has said the increase was needed to give the borough a little breathing room.

“There is no room for error without an increase,” Stewart said earlier this month. “A small increase is a better way to go than waiting, and maybe next year (considering) a very significant increase because we didn’t do anything this year.”

Sources of revenue include $941,000 in projected real estate taxes, $566,500 in earned income tax, $275,000 for federal and state agencies for the repair of the storm drain and pavement of Lamb Street, and $125,000 in parking meter revenue.

Major expenses include the police force, at more than $1.4 million, and public works, which is budgeted to cost about $976,000.

Wilson said he has no major problems with the budget other than the tax increase. He said he voted against it on principle because of the tax bump.

He doesn’t want several small increases to add up to larger ones.

“I know that it’s needed, but there has got to be a point where we can’t raise the taxes any longer or no one will want to live in the borough,” he said.