By ROXANN MILLER
9:39 PM EST, December 4, 2012
The Greencastle Borough Council approved its $2.5 million 2012 budget Monday evening with a new service tax for borough residents but no property tax increase.
While real estate taxes won’t increase, the council voted to adopt the Local Service Tax — formerly the Emergency and Municipal Service Tax — for the first time.
The $52 tax will be assessed on employed borough residents. It will generate about $90,000 for the borough, said Ken Womack, who served as borough manager until Monday.
“We were just to the point where we had to increase taxes, but council preferred not to raise real estate tax,” Womack said. “They considered it better to tax people who are working than people on fixed incomes.”
Funds from the tax were originally intended to be used to pay for fire, ambulance and police services, but now the revenue can be used to help municipalities cover their budgets.
Council members voted unanimously to hold the line on property taxes at the current 11 mills.
A mill represents $1 of every $1,000 assessed property value.
One mill equates to $40,062 in revenue for the borough.
This is the 10th year without a property tax increase, Womack said. But that might change in the next year or two.
“We’re getting to a point, in the next year or two, where we have no choice but to raise taxes. Everything costs more,” Council President Charles Eckstine said.
Not raising taxes for 10 years is a pretty significant accomplishment, he said.
“It’s not only our current council. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have elected officials who were concerned with how we spent the taxpayers’ money, and I think the community has benefited from that,” Eckstine said.
Also during the meeting, the council accepted Womack’s resignation as borough manager effective Dec. 3. He has been borough manager since February 2008.
The council voted to appoint Assistant Borough Manager Susan Armstrong as borough manager effective Dec. 3.
Armstrong began her duties with the borough in September. She has 23 years of municipal government experience.
Womack will remain with the borough as assistant borough manager through the end of the month in order to ensure a smooth transition.
Eckstine said he’s sad to see Womack leave his post.
“I can’t say enough nice things about him,” Eckstine said. “He’s brought us a long way in IT (information technology).”
During Womack’s leadership as borough manager, a new computer system and new phone system were installed.
Womack oversaw street repairs to South Allison and Madison streets, Eckstine said.
“I’ve worked with a lot of professional people in my time, and Ken (Womack) is probably at the top of my list,” Eckstine said. “He’s brought a lot to the borough.”
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