Borough Residents Approve .12 Mill Increase
Approximately 25 residents of the Borough of Newtown came to a special budget meeting in the Edmond Town Hall gymnasium on May 10 to consider the borough’s 2022-23 budget, and approving it on a vote of 22-1.
Residents were asked to both approve a proposed budget of $224,820, an $8,100 or 3.7% spending increase over the 2021-22 budget of $216,720; as well as a new mill rate of .76, a .12 mill or 18.7% increase over last year’s rate of .64 mills. The assembled borough residents also approved the mill rate increase on a 22-1 vote. A mill represents one dollar for every $1,000 in taxable property.
Borough Warden Joseph “Jay” Maher expressed pleasure at the passage of the budget, which had the borough’s first mill increase since 2018-19.
“I’m very happy to have such support from borough residents,” said Maher. “We look forward to continuing our business of keeping the borough a special place.”
Senior Burgess Chris Gardner was “thrilled” at the passage of the budget and mill rate.
“I think this is a very good budget for the borough,” said Gardner. “I’m pleased we’re using some revenue to offset taxes. The funds all serve to enable us to keep the borough looking good and preserve its historic Main Street.”
Burgess Jim Gaston noted that even with the mill rate increase, the borough’s new mill rate is “less than the seven year average.” The borough’s mill rate had been .85 in 2015-16, .86 in 2016-17, .85 in 2017-18, and .95 in 2018-19, before being reduced to .67 in 2019-20. The mill rate was .66 in 2020-21. Over the last two years, the mill rate has been at an “all time low.”
“I’m very pleased and happy for the support of the borough and I thank them,” said Gaston.
At a meeting in April, Gaston said that the mill rate had been reduced in 2019-20 because the borough had extra money from building projects, and decided to give some of that money back to the taxpayers through a lower mill rate. However, that was “always meant to be temporary.”
With the borough’s fund balance declining to one-and-a-half times the normal budget, the board is looking to phase out use of fund balance money to keep the mill rate lower. The borough had been using $40,000 per year from the fund balance; however, this year it has lowered that amount to $25,000.
Next year, the amount used for the budget from the fund balance will be $15,000; and the following year, 2024-25, using money from the fund balance for the regular budget will be completely phased out.
The borough’s policy is that unassigned fund balance be held at no less than one-and-a-half times the budget, so roughly $330,000, plus money held in accounts for sidewalk installation of $150,000; $30,000 for tree maintenance, $40,000 for legal expenditures, and $15,000 for the historic district; for a total of $565,000. The current fund balance is $622,000, and will be $597,000 if the current budget is approved by using $25,000 of it to offset the mill rate.
The 2022-23 proposed budget has a number of increases from last year. Some of the most notable were a $1,000 increase for fire hydrants, from $69,000 to $70,000; a $1,000 increase for clerk salary, from $5,000 to $6,000; a $1,000 increase for tax collector salary, from $7,500 to $8,500; a $500 increase for treasurer salary, from $5,000 to $5,500; a $2,500 increase for building clerk salary, from $2,000 to $4,500; and a $5,500 increase for zoning officer salary, from $8,000 to $13,500.
A number of reductions were made to the budget to help reduce the overall tax increase; the most notable were a $2,500 decrease in the legal fees line item, from $15,000 to $12,500; a $3,000 decrease for street lights, from $27,000 to $25,000; and a $1,500 decrease for tree maintenance, from $3,000 to $1,500.
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.