A year after an 18 percent hike, Phoenixville residents will get some relative tax relief this year, as the borough council voted to keep the millage rate at 5.25 at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
The draft budget borough manager E. Jean Krack presented in November originally called for a 1.3 percent tax increase, but higher than expected assessments from the county narrowed the projected 2013 shortfall from $47,000 to $17,000—and shrunk the corresponding tax hike to under one half of one percent. Rather than enact the smaller increase, the council decided to leave the millage rate unchanged.
The body initially appeared poised to pass the budget with a tax increase, but after a brief debate, during which mayor Leo Scoda, councilmen David Gautreau, Michael Speck, James Kovaleski, and president Richard Kirkner voiced support for keeping the millage rate the same, the council voted 7-1 to pass the $8,020,161 budget.
“Last year the pension costs really hit us hard, and this year, with what’s happened in the stock market, there’s been some easing up in that,” said Kirkner, explaining the borough’s improved fiscal outlook.
North Ward councilman Christopher Bauers called it a strong budget that is reflective of the priorities of the borough’s residents.
“[We] dealt with critical issues of employee retention and public safety. It’s a responsible and accountable budget,” said Bauers, adding that it included a vehicle replacement plan and a new police officer. Officer Jason Komoroski was sworn in before Tuesday night’s meeting.
Middle Ward councilman Karl Bucus—who emphasized that revenue estimates are just that, estimates, and urged the council to pass the more conservative, and balanced, budget—was the lone “no” vote.