Montrose looks to lower taxes

Montrose property owners could see a reduction in their 2013 borough taxes.

After reviewing preliminary budget numbers at the Monday, Nov. 19 meeting, Councilman Craig Reimel said the borough could maintain the current level of services even with a two mill reduction.

Currently, Montrose property owners are taxed at 14 mills; one mill of taxes brings in about $27,000 to the borough.

Even with a two mill reduction, Reimel said, projected revenue is higher than the projected expenses. He said that at current budget and spending levels, taxes could drop four mills and the borough would still break even.

“The earned income tax was designed to take the reliance off of real estate taxes,” Reimel said.

But Council President Tom LaMont was more hesitant about a two mill tax reduction.

“My point isn’t that we have it to spend it now,” LaMont said. “I also see some services that have been pushed aside.”

“Are there services we are not providing that we should be?” LaMont asked council.

Councilman Tony Pickett answered in the affirmative but did not elaborate.

Reimel said, “The fire company continues to be bedeviled by high equipment costs and mandated trainings.”

He suggested the borough, which contributes $30,000 to United Fire Co., could increase the annual amount by $5,000.

“I could live with 12 mills and we would still have money to give to the fire company,” Reimel said.

With a preliminary budget in front of them, council members began to hammer out some of the numbers, costs of potential projects and the likelihood of increased funding needs for electric and the zoning hearing board.

The preliminary numbers also took into account the nearly $3,000 reduction in the Act 13 funds the borough received.

Council members also discussed the possibility of moving forward with curbing projects on several corners in the town and opted to bump the budgeted $25,000 for contracted services up to $50,000.

Another potential project in 2013 would be the reinstallation of restroom facilities at Memorial Park. Reimel proposed the borough install nearly indestructible, prefab concrete bathrooms similar to ones used at many state parks and rest stops.

This year, video surveillance cameras were installed at the park in a move to decrease vandalism.

Although there have been several futile attempts in the past few years to adopt a rental ordinance, council is once again looking at the possibility putting an ordinance into place in 2013.

Council members reviewed a draft ordinance. They plan to revisit the matter at the mid-January meeting.

It was also reported that the roofing project on the borough garage was underway.

Council recessed the meeting with plans to resume budget discussions Tuesday, Nov. 27, in an effort to bring a completed budget up for a vote at the Dec. 17 meeting.