The Montgomery County Commissioners voted 2-1 to post a preliminary $389.3 million budget that includes drastic cuts to departmental budgets to close a $40 million shortfall. The draft budget was prepared with no tax hike and maintains a cash balance of $20 million, a number below the recommended 10 percent required by bond rating firms to keep its Triple A bond rating. The draft plan would eliminate the planning commission and heritage sites department; end budget allocations to outside agencies such as the county library and Elmwood Park Zoo; and does not include a pay raise for county employees for the third straight year. Commissioner Joseph Hoeffel voted against posting the budget plan because he felt it was ‘unrealistic’. Commissioners Hoeffel and James Matthews favor a combination of spending cuts and a tax increase to close the budget gap. Commissioner Bruce Castor wants to consult with newly elected Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards before making a decision on raising taxes. The preliminary budget does not include a tax increase, however, it is estimated that a 28.6 percent tax increase would be needed to close the budget gap. A tax increase of that size would amount to about $130 more in taxes for the average homeowner. A public budget hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. with final budget adoption scheduled for Dec. 21 at 10 a.m. Visit www.montcopa.org to view and comment on the 2012 proposed Montgomery County budget.
Source: The Intelligencer; 12/1/2011 & Times Herald; 12/1/2011
Jenkintown passes anti-discrimination ordinance
Jenkintown Borough Council unanimously voted to establish an ordinance that makes it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents in matters of housing, commercial property, employment and public accommodation. A four-member human relations commission will be created that will be responsible for mediation or referral of discrimination complaints. Jenkintown is the 25th Pennsylvania municipality to adopt a local anti-discrimination ordinance that protects LGBT residents.
Source: Glenside News; 11/29/2011
North Penn discusses alternate method of delinquent tax collection
The North Penn School District Finance Committee recently discussed the possibility of using a law firm to recover money from property owners who are delinquent on their property taxes. The law firm would not charge the school district a fee to collect the delinquent taxes; instead the taxpayer would have to pay legal fees in addition to the delinquent property tax. Currently, the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau collects delinquent property taxes and charges the school district 5 percent. The current delinquent collections procedure takes over two years. North Penn School District is owed about $2 million in delinquent taxes.
Source: Times Herald; 11/24/2011
Pottstown budget plan includes 3.6 percent tax increase
Pottstown Borough Council approved a $38.9 million proposed budget for adoption that includes a 3.6 percent increase in property taxes. The .362 mill increase would raise taxes on the average home assessed in the borough by about $31. The borough will use $200,000 from reserves in addition to the increased tax revenue to balance the budget. The proposed budget is available on the Pottstown Borough website.
Source: The Pottstown Mercury; 11/30/2011
Lower Gwynedd proposes first tax increase in 16 years
Property taxes in Lower Gwynedd Township may increase for the first time in 16 years. The 2012 proposed budget would raise taxes from 1.117 mills to 1.223 mills, a 9.49 percent increase. A residence assessed at the township average of $350,000 would pay an additional $37.10 in taxes for a total bill of $428.05. Township Manager Larry Communale explained that a tax increase was necessary to replenish the township’s capital reserve fund, which has not seen any funding for the past several years. The proposed budget is available for review at www.lowergwynedd.org and at the township building. The supervisors are scheduled to vote on the budget at the Dec. 13 meeting.
Source: Ambler Gazette; 11/29/2011
Buying, Selling or Renting in The Greater Philadelphia Area
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