Lititz taxes rising, but by how much?

By on November 9, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Lititz Borough residents are all but assured to see an increase in their borough taxes in 2012, but by how much is still up in the air.

For over three and a half hours Tuesday night, members of the borough council, administration and police force poured over the first draft of the 2012 budget, looking carefully at both the revenues and expenditures for the coming year. By the end of the evening, everyone was in agreement that a tax increase was inevitable and that it was the only fiscally responsible course of action to keep the borough solvent into the future.

The size of that increase, the borough’s first since 2006, could be between 20 and 25 percent. Borough manager Sue Barry presented those present with data which showed that Lititz has maintained the lowest tax millage rate in the county for several years. She added that even with the possible range of increases, based on what other borough’s and townships are facing, Lititz will remain near the bottom of that list.

"We’ve done well to keep the rates as low as we can, but we’ve come to the point where it would be irresponsible to not raise them in anticipation of future expenditures," said council president Karen Weibel. "It is probably time."

Those future expenditures were the challenges council spent considerable time talking about Tuesday. There will be considerable cost involved in upgrading the police and fire radio systems as part of the new countywide 911 communication, which will be tested this coming summer and go live some time in 2013. Council also recognizes that with the community pool, having just celebrated its 50th anniversary, will soon be in need of major renovations, if not replacements. Fire equipment and police fleet updates will add additional challenges to the budget. And funding the police pension plan will continue to add to the strain.

Weibel noted that back in the early 2000s Lititz was routinely adding around $30,000 per year to a reserve in the general fund for use as a rainy day account to cover such huge expenditures. But council later felt it made sense to allow the reserve fund to draw down, placing only $15,000 in the fund for 2012. Council also voiced concerns that the deteriorating roof and aging HVAC system at the borough building presents potential budget pitfalls which demanded planning in the rainy day fund.

Barry will continue to work with chairman of the budget and finance committee Shane Weaver to come up with a number of scenarios. The preliminary budget will be submitted at council’s Nov. 29 meeting, and it will be advertised for public review prior to final adoption in December. More BOROUGH BUDGET, page A6

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