Lititz proposes .5-mill tax hike

By on December 3, 2014
Last week’s borough council meeting opened with a special presentation from Johnny Johns, Lititz native and early rock and roll recording star. He donated a print of the Lititz train station, which was graciously accepted by Mayor Tim Snyder. The print will be displayed at the Welcome Center. (photo by Stan Hall)

Last week’s borough council meeting opened with a special presentation from Johnny Johns, Lititz native and early rock and roll recording star. He donated a print of the Lititz train station, which was graciously accepted by Mayor Tim Snyder. The print will be displayed at the Welcome Center. (photo by Stan Hall)

Lititz Borough Council on Nov. 25 approved a proposed 2015 budget that includes a half-mill tax hike that would raise the tax rate to 2.6 mills up from 2.1 mills.

The proposed budget will be advertised and available for public inspection at the Lititz Borough office, 7 S. Broad St., until council meets for a budget adoption vote on Dec. 30.

Under the proposed budget, a property assessed at $100,000 would generate a $260 local real estate tax bill, or a $50 annual increase.

The board crafted the spending plan after a nearly four-hour work session on Nov 12 “during which the budget was reviewed line by line,” said Karen Weibel, council president.

Council member Shane Weaver noted that even with the half mill increase to 2.6 mills, Lititz remains one of the boroughs in Lancaster county with the lowest tax rates.

Only Ephrata Borough, whose preliminary budget does not call for a tax increase for 2015 tax rate, remains lower at 2.07 mills.

“Part of what helps keep Ephrata’s tax rates so low is their electric business,” added Weaver. “We don’t have that to fall back on.”

Weibel concurred.

“We are tax payers, too,” said Weibel. “We are very conservative with our spending as are the department heads throughout the borough.”

The spending plan also maintains all present tax rates and fees. That includes an earned-income tax and real estate-transfer tax both at 0.5 percent, and $10 annual fees for both occupation and per capita taxes.

Council appointed Trout, Ebersole & Groff as the borough’s 2014 independent auditor.

Borough leaders added that it is their hope that this tax increases might help hold the line on taxes until the next county wide re-assessment. Council members said that many factors could impact on future budgets.

While it hopes to avoid a property tax increase in the foreseeable future, Weaver cautioned that added tax revenue growth is limited.

“We cannot court new development as Warwick Township can,” added Weaver. “Except for 72 acres of development with Moravian Manor and a small piece of residential acreage on the north end of town, Lititz Borough cannot anticipate additional growth in taxable residential property.”

Public safety, police protection, public works and some capital purchases are key priorities in the 2015 budget, said Weibel.

“This is a big budget,” noted Weibel. “In it we include a new leaf machine. We have in the last two years consistently increased our pension plan contribution beyond what is required by the state to the tune of $80,000.”

The budget includes a $35,000 investment in our borough parks, $100,000 for a new police officer, and $25,000 for roof repair, painting borough hall and a laundry list of cost items.

The borough is anticipating costs associated with code updates, contributions to the ambulance capital campaign and various other odds and ends.

“All those things in effect fatten the budget,” said Weibel. “Unfortunately, it is what it is.”

  • Council also passed a resolution to eliminate a turn on red at the Broad and Orange streets intersection. A no-turn-on-red sign will be posted for west bound vehicles traveling from East Orange Street turning onto South Broad Street. This was made necessary due to short visibility areas at the intersection and is a direct response to on-going problems including a hit pedestrian not too long ago.
  • Lititz residents including Jason Goodman asked council to clarify how many pets, especially dogs, may be maintained on residential property.

Goodman, along with a number of his neighbors pointed to concerns about dogs barking at all hours They also pointed to concerns about handling and disposal of pet waste.

According to residents, up to fifteen residences are now being negatively affected by just one neighbor who maintains a number of dogs on his property.

According to police, there has not been an overwhelming number of complaint calls to back up the concerns raised.

Sergeant Kerry Nye sympathized with the resident and advised them to contact police to document the disruptive behavior and help borough leaders forge a course of action.

Weibel also said that the zoning officer has been in contact with the borough’s solicitor for advice and guidance on the matter.

“We are doing some research with other municipalities,” Weibel said. “Our zoning officer is also reaching out to look at what can and cannot be done within the current code.”

For additional information on Lititz Borough, please visit their website at www.lititzborough.org.

Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback and questions via email at klingerlgobal@gmail.com or on twitter at www.twitter.com/gpklinger.

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