Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Coplay budget includes tax hike

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

The final version of Coplay Borough’s 2018 budget was approved Dec. 18.

The $2.3 million budget increases property taxes by 0.03 mill. Taxes for the borough are 4.130 mills for the general fund, 0.380 mill for the library and another 0.380 mill for emergency services.

The borough increases garbage tax rates to $280 for most households. Seniors get a $40 discount.

The borough proposes to pay $282,650 to administer the budget. This is a little over 10 percent of the budget but does not include overhead costs for administrative employees. The most expensive items in the budget are the borough administrator’s salary at $56,940 and the tax collector’s at $29,000. The remaining funds in the budget are for support personnel, materials, communications equipment and maintenance of borough buildings.

There is a separate library tax. The borough no longer supports the library from the general fund. Funds to maintain the library building are included in the borough’s expenses.

Streets department has a total budget of $354,408. Of the total budget, $154,058 is for direct personnel costs. Overhead costs are kept in a separate account. The new budget allocates $118,000 to street repairs. The repairs are generally done by outside contractors using a bid system. The budget includes allocation of $20,000 for a potential new building on property owned by the borough and another $8,500 in an equipment fund.

The recreation department has a budget of $93,100. The biggest expense is $22,500 for pool wages. There is a provision to hold $19,000 in a playground equipment fund, and $10,000 is allocated for repairs to existing real property.

Overhead expenses are kept separately. The total in this category is $498,000. Most of this fund is allocated to insurance, pension and payroll taxes.

The police department costs the borough $475,376. The two biggest expenses outside of labor are fuel for the vehicles and the data infrastructure. There is a provision of $14,000 for a vehicle fund.

The borough’s health department has a budget of $8,220.

Emergency services are projected to spend $112,100 for the fire department and another $1,700 for emergency management. The existing tax levy of 0.380 mill brings in $96,400, and there is a $20,000 surplus from 2017. As reported during the last council meeting, the borough will purchase a new firetruck at a cost of $500,000. The truck is purchased with a separate loan guaranteed by the borough.

The sanitation department, like the fire department, is self-funded. The income is from separate payments made for garbage collection. The receipts for trash collection are anticipated at $421,730. Expenses are listed at $416,270. Labor is the biggest cost, with $150,000 in direct labor expenses and $80,000 in overhead costs. Dumping fees are $93,000. There are provisions in the budget for a building fund at $20,000 and an equipment fund at $3,000.

The state provides offset funding to the borough. The expected amount for 2018 is $96,000. The account has a surplus of $40,000 from 2017. The funds are primarily used for street lighting. The expected bill for street lighting in 2018 is $56,000. Street sweeping and road salt are in this category.

The borough projects receipts of $1,520,359. The borough’s real estate assessment of $196,344,200 brings in nearly $800,000 in property tax. Earned Income Tax brings in $330,000.

The borough is starting the year with a surplus of $195,000 from insurance payments for storm damage. When expenses are balanced against receipts, there is a projected balance of $3,600 for 2018.

Of the borough’s revenues, the library, sanitation and fire departments are funded with specific designated revenues. Of the general revenues, 27 percent goes to the police and 20 percent goes to repair the streets.