• Marta Kathryn Driscoll

New CHB Tax Rate

Updated: Dec 16, 2020


On December 7th, 2020 the Council

presented and approved the final budget for 2021. The budget included a significant increase in expenses for the general fund over prior years (50% or $300K). It also included a swift correction in the tax rate to keep the rate revenue neutral. Resolution 20-12-A established the new tax rate of .37878. The tax rate includes the General Fund rate of 0.20058 mils and 0.1782 mils for the Fire Tax.


Last November, when the 2020 tax rate was levied the assessed values of all taxable properties in CHB was $215.7M. In 2020, the pre reassessment values increased by $23.6M to $239.3M due to new construction. The new REASSESSED VALUES on taxable properties for the 2021 tax year were reported at $483.9M. Some new assessments are still under appeal.


The council had the option to exclude new construction from the calculation of the new tax rate in an effort to allow the fire company to retain its 2020 tax level revenues of $95.7K in the 2021 budget. They chose not to make that correction.


That wasn't the only controversy of the Fire Company budget. Earlier in the year, the council finance committee wanted to spend some of the one-time windfall they received from the transfer tax revenue generated by the sale of the Summit. They asked the fire company to identify any one-time purchases that they need to make. Given the flood rescues that the fire company had undertaken in 2020, they decided that a water rescue would be a good asset to serve the community. The cost would be $18K. The council agreed.


Then came the budget discussion.


First, the council finance committee asked to strip away nonrestricted contribution in the amount of $10K, noting that additional tax revenue (restricted funding) would take its place. Then they recalculated the fire tax, without the reallocation to the fire budget, creating an additional ($9.4K) cut to the fire tax year over year.


When this budget meeting began the total reduction to recurring revenue for the fire company was ($19.4K) and it looked like the fire company just paid for their own water rescue.


After a little (or rather a lot) "singing for their supper" by the Fire Company, the council agreed to keep their word and made up part of the difference to the tax revenue shortfall via a nonrestricted contribution.


My two cents...we are a small borough, with few services being provided by the municipality. It is fair that our taxes are low, but I do not understand the reluctance of the council to fund the fire company equitably at the same level as in prior years. Especially during a pandemic. Our ALL VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY is extremely conscientious in how they spend our tax dollars. We have a company president who is always looking for new grants, or ways to save. CHFC plans ahead and saves for future expenditures and they should not be penalized for their conservative accounting practices.


It's imperative that we support them in their training and provide them with dependable equipment because it really is a matter of life or death. This is why I voted for the fire tax when it was established in 2016.


In addition to saving lives, Fire Marshall Ciocco pointed out that having a local fire company gives our homes a better insurance rating which brings down costs.


Links to the Borough Budget Page


Zoning Hearing Board Vacancy Filled

Natalie Young was appointed to the Zoning Hearing board Effective January 1st, 2020.


Library Board Vacancy

The Council is seeking applicants interested in being appointed to the Rachel Kohl Libary Board. If you are interested please submit a letter of interest and a resume to info@chesterheights.org by December 23rd. MORE INFO HERE.


Ratified Motions:

Approve 2020/2021 Snow Removal Contract MOR Construction Services, Inc

Approve Animal Control Contract/ Allen Strickler begins 01/01/2021

Approve Animal Control BVSPCA Termination 12/31/2020 (COST Approx $6K)

Accept Cynthia McNicholas Resignation Letter

Approve the Audit Proposals – Leitzell & Economidis,

  • Fire Company 2019/2020 - $9,000

  • General Fund 2020 - $7,600

  • Tax Collector 2020 - $2,900


Discussion of Entrapment in the Elevator that occurred at the Summit took place after the Fire Marshal gave his report. A council member asked why in such instances the elevator company wasn't called rather than the fire department. What do you think? Should the fire company decline elevator entrapment calls to save on the cost of sending out a team?


For more details, here is the link to the meeting audio.


POST MEETING NOTE:

The Zoning Hearing Board Application for 725 Darlington Road has been withdrawn.

For some background on the original request check out my notes HERE.


After I sent out my NOTES ABOUT THE 2021 BUDGET, the CHB finance company provided additional information on the 2021 budget via email.

HERE IS A COPY OF WHAT WAS SENT.

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