locally owned since 1854

Middletown property taxes increasing after council vote; find out how much more you will pay

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 12/5/18

Middletown Borough Council during gave final approval Tuesday to a 2019 general fund budget that raises the borough property tax by 2 mills, the first increase since 2008.

The property tax will go …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Middletown property taxes increasing after council vote; find out how much more you will pay

Posted

Middletown Borough Council during gave final approval Tuesday to a 2019 general fund budget that raises the borough property tax by 2 mills, the first increase since 2008.

The property tax will go up by $157.40 in 2019 for the owner of a home assessed at $78,700, the median assessed value in the borough. The increase will be $200 more for someone with a home valued at $100,000.

The increase is projected to bring in about $500,000.

Council in November had voted 6-0 to approve advertising the proposed budget with the tax increase.

The final vote was different. Councilor Jenny Miller — who had voted in favor of advertising the tax increase — cast the lone vote against final approval of the budget and the tax hike.

Miller declined comment on her vote in an email to the Press & Journal.

The final budget was approved by just three councilors — President Angela Lloyd and Vice President Mike Woodworth, and Dawn Knull, who participated by telephone.

Ellen Willenbecher — sworn in just minutes before as council’s newest member to replace former President Damon Suglia, who resigned effective Nov. 16 — abstained from the vote.

However, Willenbecher earlier in the meeting while being interviewed for the council seat said she would have voted for the tax increase, based on what she had learned from attending several of the public meetings council held while crafting the budget.

“If I was sitting there instead of here, I would have voted for a tax increase,” Willenbecher said.

Councilor Ian Reddinger was not present for the final budget vote, having gotten up and left the council meeting immediately after Willenbecher was sworn in.

Councilor Robert Reid did not attend the meeting.

Reddinger previously said the 2-mill increase is needed to make up for taxes not going up at all the past 11 years. Reid had said he could support a 2-mill hike.

Even with the 2-mill increase, the 2019 budget reflects spending being cut by 5 percent across the board from budgeted 2018 levels for all “discretionary” items.

However, total general fund spending for 2019 is still higher than in 2018 — $6.9 million compared to just less than $6.1 million.

The 2019 budget includes funding for a new full-time public works employee, and one new full-time police officer. The department had requested five.

The budget also includes funding to promote one of the police department’s full-time officers to detective, giving the department two detectives to handle a caseload that is too much for one, according to interim Police Chief Sgt. Dennis Morris.

Each new mil of tax is estimated to bring in $248,000 in new revenue. Besides playing catch-up for the past 11 years, part of council’s logic in approving a 2-mill increase is to start putting money aside to pay for needed capital improvements.

The borough is projected to end 2019 with a surplus of $156,000, which council has said it plans to use in 2020 to pay for a number of capital improvements that were cut out of the 2019 budget.

While the property tax is going up, the electric rate is staying where it is. Council is transferring $1.6 million from the electric fund to help balance the 2019 general fund budget — the same amount that was transferred from the electric fund in 2018.

Otherwise, the 2019 electric fund budget is going up by about $100,000 over 2018, from $8.06 million to $8.16 million.