Last year, following four contentious budget hearings, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted to raise taxes 1.01 mills (18.4%) to a 7.09 millage rate. A home assessed at $100,000 received a $709 tax bill. What about next year? A budget proposed by Manager Melissa Shafer proposes no tax hike. But $17.4 million in expected expenditures exceed $16.8 million in anticipated revenue, creating a structural deficit. The Township will balance the budget by dipping into its general fund, leaving the Township with a year-end balance of $1.8 million. This is about 10% of projected revenue.
Taxes account for 66% of the revenue in 2017. But 13% of the revenue comes from the general fund.
Shafer is concerned that the fund balance is continuing to drop. This, combined with capital projects like Brodhead Road reconstruction and renovations at the Community Center, has led Shafer to suggest quarter mill tax hikes in each of the next two years.
Good luck with that!
Last year, news of a proposed tax hike resulted in the defeat of two of three Commissioners seeking re-election. It's highly unlikely that Commissioners will take a no-tax hike budget and raise taxes.
There will be four budget hearings, and the first of these occurred last night. Last year, they were packed. This year, there were far fewer angry residents.