Kutztown Borough Council unanimously voted to advertise a 2021 budget proposal of $4,855,000 with no tax increase and no rate increases for utilities.
Borough Manager Gabriel Khalife presented the proposed 2021 budget, with the tax rate remaining at 4.6 mills, at the virtual council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 18, kicking off the public review period.
“We’re not looking for any increases in the utility rates, in the refuse rates, and borough taxes and hopefully 2021 will be a decently healthy year outside of the COVID era,” said Khalife, thanking the department heads and the committees for all of their efforts to make the borough efficient throughout the year. “We’re trying to make do with what we have and not increase the rates in any area.”
Council President Kevin Synder commended Khalife as well for working with the department heads and the committees “to make this budget work without having any increases in the utilities and taxes next year.”
“We should make it well known that there are no increases in any utilities or taxes,” said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel.
In 2020, residents saw a .25 mill increase to 4.6 mills and a .25 mill Fire tax increase. Previously, Kutztown Borough had not raised taxes since 2015.
While water and sewer rates saw a 5% increase in 2020, the rates are proposed to remain the same for 2021.
In comparison, the 2020 tax rates in neighboring municipalities include 8.25 mills in Hamburg, 6.86 mills in Birdsboro, 6.45 mills in Fleetwood, 7.55 mills in Topton, and 7.34 mills in Boyertown.
Taking a look back at 2020, Kutztown saw a 2% reduction ($8,000) for Earned Income Tax and a 5% reduction ($5,000) for the Local Services Tax. There was also a decrease in property transfer taxes by $20,000 and a decrease in Liquid Fuels for 2021 by $15,000. Kutztown Borough also saw a $25,000 loss of amusement tax due to the cancellation of the Kutztown Folk Festival.
Looking forward to 2021, the borough plans to purchase a police vehicle, expand financial and utility software utilization, continue paying the $25,000 for water and sewer Department of Environmental Protection fees and continue Downtown Housing & Commercial Initiative working with the Kutztown Community Partnership and Planning Commission. For the electric department, the plan is to make transformer upgrades, replace a 2002 bucket truck and replace a KV69 oil circuit breaker.
In other news, Council member Ed Seyler announced that the Water Department has been awarded the Area Wide Optimization Program for the 10th year.
“This national award is given to water plants to recognize the operators’ outstanding efforts toward optimizing filter plant turbidity performance. This award is possible because of the outstanding work and dedication of the Borough’s Water Plant Operators in operating and maintaining the plant as well as Borough Council’s support of the staff and plant needs,” said Seyler.
To view the proposed 2021 budget, visit the Kutztown Borough website at https://www.kutztownboro.org/.