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Modest rate hikes, no tax increase in Schuylkill Haven budget

Schuylkill Haven Borough Council on Nov. 2 tentatively approved a preliminary budget for the new year. Borough residents should see no increase in borough taxes, though a small increase is likely for sanitation and electric.

The preliminary budget is balanced, Councilman Kurt Montz said. It calls for a $5 increase in sanitation bills and a 3% increase in electric bills.

Montz commended the borough finance committee and everyone who worked on the preliminary budget. He noted that residents will lose no services, see no municipal tax hikes and only face a very small increase in their sanitation and electric bills, much lower than many nearby municipalities.

Montz said the borough is absorbing part of the necessary sanitation rate increase in an effort to keep rates for residents as low as possible while keeping the budget balanced.

Council members on hand unanimously approved the preliminary budget. Councilmen Kevin Kline and John Williams were absent.

In other business, council approved a resolution that borough solicitor Mark Semanchik described as a follow-up to  Act 57, which requires municipalities to adopt a resolution that grants the local tax collector the ability to waive fees and penalties in specific situations.

Semanchik used an example of a home changing ownership right around tax time and the bill getting lost in transfer, not getting paid and then going to county collections. Semanchik the resolution gives the borough tax collector the ability to correct the issue as deemed necessary. Council agreed and passed the resolution.

Council approved authorizing the recreation commission to purchase $2,000 worth of trout to stock Stoyer’s Dam and the Schuylkill River for the fishing derby.

Council approved allowing the fire police to hold a boot drive. Councilman Tom Gordon questioned the need for the fundraiser and asked if the borough could just directly help the fire police with any needs they have. Montz said the borough recently provided money to support some of the fire police’s needs, but they still need more funds.

Borough administrator Jessica Seiders reported that there is significant progress on the ongoing electrical substation upgrade project. There have been some delays with certain aspects of the project that may extend into January, but for the most part, the borough is very pleased with the progress. The project is expected to provide the borough with some of the most reliable electricity around.

Resident Ruth Tucci participated in public comment, raising concerns about speeding along Route 61, an issue she has brought up repeatedly at past meetings,

“Route 61 has (recently) had no less than 10 accidents. People continue to speed. I want to know who I can write to to thank them for killing our relatives,” Tucci sarcastically quipped. “They’re doing a wonderful job with our tax money.”

Montz said he agreed with Tucci’s concerns and said he recentl spoken to the chief. He said he will encourage the mayor to speak with the chief and state police seeking ways to team up and address the issue along with investigating other possible solutions through means available.

Mayor Michael Devlin said the town Christmas tree lighting will take place Nov. 27. Also mentioned were positive upgrades to the trail at Tumbling Run.

Source: Berkshire mont

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