The plan includes dollars for capital projects. Increases will be offset somewhat by $450,301 from the local surplus.
By Matt Skoufalos
Taxes are headed up for Collingswood residents in 2015, as borough commissioners introduced a municipal budget that seeks to balance rising benefit costs with infrastructure improvements even as housing values have taken a slight downturn.
“We’re absorbing two firemen, we’re doing a bunch more infrastructure items, and we’re keeping our aggressive debt repayment schedule,” Collingswood Mayor James Maley said.
“We’ve knocked our debt down 20 percent in the past four years, and that counts us borrowing the $1.7 million for the pool.”
The average tax impact amounts to about $67 for a home assessed at the borough average. Comparatively, local taxes for the average borough household increased about $122 in 2014.
Property assessments generated less revenue in 2015, with the average assessed value of a home in the borough falling from $231,300 to $230,000. That helped drive the .034 cents increase over 2014 assessments ($1.003 cents per $100 in 2015, up from 0.969 cents per $100 in 2014).
Maley downplayed the impact of the drop-off.
“That’s the world we’re living in right now,” he said. “All those assessments are resetting a little bit. That’s a half a percent. It has a little impact, but it’s very little.”
The 2015 budget ($15.958 million) is down about 6 percent from that of 2014 ($16.889 million), or $931,000.
Local taxes will raise $10.336 million of that amount, about $258,000 less than the $10.594 million allowable under the 2 percent budget cap.
Excluded from the budget cap are $386,469 in healthcare and pension costs, capital improvements, and debt service ($196,830).
Also offsetting the local increase is a planned $450,301 draw-down of the $1.7-million borough surplus. The budget also anticipates generating additional revenues from sewer rents, parking, and pool tags.
Revenues from sewer rents are anticipated to hit $1.93 million in 2015, up 2 percent from $1.89 million in 2014; anticipated revenues from water rents, however, will fall to $2.27 million, down about 3 percent from $2.35 million in 2014. The differences are due to anticipations of revenues collected rather than any increase or decrease in rates.
The borough also anticipates generating some $20,000 more from the sales of tags at Roberts Pool ($170,000 versus $150,000 in 2014) and an additional $35,000 in revenues from parking meters ($180,000 versus $145,000 in 2014).
Debt service payments in the 2015 budget are down 26 percent, or $1.239 million from year-ago levels ($3.47 million versus $4.71 million in 2014), and capital improvement funds are up 40 percent, or $150,000 ($375,000 in 2015 versus $225,000 in 2014).
Projects for which those dollars have been earmarked include the Roberts Pool renovations, new water and storm sewer improvements, and the installation of a public restroom near the Knight Park caretaker’s home--an improvement that Maley said has been “a long time coming.”
The budget also absorbs an additional $101,600 for the salaries of two firefighters that previously had been covered by a SAFER grant.