FOLSOM - The municipal tax rate will increase slightly less than two cents with the budget Borough Council introduced Wednesday night.
The $1.41 million budget is $183,053 larger than last year's spending plan, despite a $47,911 cut in state aid. The government intends to raise an additional $24,196 in tax revenue this year.
Mayor Thomas Ballistreri said the total appropriations increased because of grant money, the rising costs of benefits and wage increase for borough employees.
"That's just the cost to do business," he said.
The 1.95 cent increase is coupled with slight decreases in the budgets of various departments, but no layoffs or furloughs. The increase brings the total municipal tax rate to 53.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
The increase is equivalent to about $30 more in local purpose taxes owed on a median home valued at $156,950.
The public hearing for the budget is May 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Ballistreri said the governing body's fiscal constraint is the reason the borough was able to avoid drastic budget cutting actions this year, contrasting that situation with other municipalities.
"In good years you have to act like there's going to be bad years," he said.
The borough will use more than half its surplus - $137,000 of $257,000 - to balance the spending plan.
Ballistreri said wage increases for borough employees were justified this year because those employees agreed to a salary freeze last year when the government had to deal with an unexpected shortfall left by an anticipated grant not being received in time.
No members of the public spoke during the public session. The few audience members included some borough employees.
"I'm proud to say they're an asset to this community," Councilman Matt Olive said of the municipality's workers.
The council introduced its budget after hearing a presentation by local school district Superintendent Jean Rishel, who explained the various cuts that lead to the board requesting a 5 cent tax-rate increase.
"Within the current year we had to really tighten our belts" to cope with state aid cuts, which, she said, includes a loss of $375,298 next year, or 7.1 percent of its total state aid.
She said the district put a freeze on buying supplies and hired substitutes as little as possible by instead rotating teachers around. They also used almost all of the district's surplus in the budget.
Ballistreri praised their work, saying any increase is not good, but that it is within a reasonable range considering the massive cuts.
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