Photos by Diana Goovaerts
Members of the Franklin Borough Council look over the budget for the 2017 fiscal year.
FRANKLIN — The Franklin Borough Council on Thursday voted to introduce a 2017 budget that will hold taxes steady for borough residents.
The proposed budget includes appropriations totaling $6.65 million, up from $6.44 million in 2016. That figure includes some $2.86 million for salaries and wages for the borough's 27 full-time and 41 part-time employees, $184,500 in capital improvements, and $377,441 as a reserve for uncollected taxes.
However, the amount of money set to be raised by taxes would decrease from $4.694 million in 2016 to $4.678 in 2017. The result, Councilwoman Dawn Fantasia said, is that municipal taxes will remain flat. Borough CFO Monica Miebach said the municipal tax burden on the average home assessed at $174,734 will figure out to $2,046.98 – virtually unchanged from 2016.
“This year we're pleased to say with our bottom line we stayed flat,” Fantasia commented. “Taxes are staying even for the municipal portion of taxes.”
Fantasia explained that the borough only has control over about a third of residents' overall tax bill, with 15 contributed by the county, and around 50 percent from the schools. The council, she noted, does not have influence over potential increases that come from the latter bodies.
“What we do have control over, a little over one third of your tax responsibility, we kept even,” she said.
Fantasia noted one of the ways the borough fought to keep the budget flat despite uncertainties in cost around bail reform and other issues was by pulling $448,100 from the fund balance.
“We're using what we have amassed for exactly situations like this when we're trying to keep salaries level and we're trying to not pay the expenses of losing employees,” Fantasia explained. “What we hope to do is use the money that we've put aside in order to support that and keep our taxes level here.”
The budget introduced Thursday also included a dedicated water/sewer utility budget with appropriations totaling $2.37 million, up just $2,276 from last year's budget. There are four full time water/sewer employees, according to the budget.