Borough Manager Budget Message 2022
The Home Rule Charter of the Borough of West Chester requires the Borough Manager to provide a preliminary budget to Borough Council at least 90 days before the end of the calendar year. This memorandum will serve as the Borough Manager budget message for the year 2022.
As I write my last budget message, I find it pertinent to reference a Borough newsletter dated, Summer of 2002. The budget message from that newsletter has not changed and is still relevant to our financial challenges as a fully-developed Borough. Quoting from the 2002 Budget message, “As is evident, the primary expenditure areas are Police protection and Public Works services.” Today, these two departments encompass the majority of Borough General Fund expenses, accounting for 73 % of our budget. In addition, the 2002 report also states, “in West Chester Borough as opposed to other municipalities the trash and recycling collection service is included in the Public Works Department budget and funded with regular tax revenues” and, “In most other municipalities, trash collection is a service that is either provided with a municipal fee or billed by private industry and costs range from several hundred dollars per year to over four hundred dollars per year.” Again, this is no different today than it was in 2002. It is remarkable that the Borough has been able to continue to maintain this service to the residents without imposing a trash fee.
To plan for the realities and our financial future over the next 5-10 years, I believe Borough Council and the Administrative staff must focus more on a long-range plan to find new revenue sources or tax increases that will provide new revenue streams, that will be able to pay for the services that our residents enjoy today.
As I stated in my letter of resignation, the Public Works Building is in very poor condition and the working conditions are less than ideal. I would suggest and recommend to Borough Council that we dust off the construction documents that were prepared approximately ten years ago and seek long-term funding in the form of bonds to pay for a new Public Works facility. I would anticipate this project to cost around $12-$15M. With this additional new debt service, and other rising costs and expenses, Borough Council will have to carefully consider the financial impact on the Borough’s annual budget.
The 2022 budget that I am presenting has a General Fund operating budget that is balanced with no reduction in services and no additional employees. I would recommend that Borough Council impose a hiring freeze for all departments and if there are any future requests for replacement staff or new positions, that these requests be reviewed and authorized by Borough Council to proceed.
With this budget package, a small property tax increase of 4% is included, which will generate approximately $230,000 to the General Fund, as well as a small sewer rate increase of 6.5% that will provide approximately $300,000 in sewer revenue to be used for capital projects. It is also my suggestion that Borough Council consider charging a fee for bulk trash pickup. This may take some time to discuss, but it would be an opportunity to charge a fee for services that not all property owners use. Being a municipality with a large student rental population, the Borough spends a significant amount of time and money removing bulk items during move-ins/move-outs in the Southeast areas of the Borough. The Public Works Committee of Council should study this topic and see if a more efficient approach to bulk trash collection can be implemented within the next 6 months.
In closing, I again quote the Borough Budget Message of 2002, “The cost for providing Borough services continues to increase and that increase is not matched by revenue growth. After ten years of finding economic, efficiencies and creating funding sources, Borough Council may in the near future be faced with the difficult decision to raise tax rates or decrease services.”
As I stated at the beginning of this message, the Borough of West Chester financial outlook has not changed much during the last 20 years.
Public Notice of Summary of Preliminary 2022 Budget and Financial Projections for the Borough of West Chester and Notice of Public Hearing
The Preliminary Budget was adopted by Borough Council at its public meeting on October 20, 2021. Following is a summary of the Preliminary 2022 Budget and Financial Projections for the Borough of West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
West Chester Borough Council will hold a public hearing as part of Council’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 7:00 PM, in Council Chambers, at Borough Hall; 401 East Gay Street; West Chester, Pennsylvania to approve the final 2022 Budget for the Borough of West Chester. Borough citizens shall have the right at the hearing to express their views on the budget.
The Preliminary Budget is available for inspection via the Borough website at www.west-chester.com or at the office of the Borough Manager, 401 East Gay Street, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380 during regular business hours. Any person who wishes to attend the hearing who has a disability and/or requires an auxiliary aid, service, or other accommodation to observe or participate in the proceedings should contact the Borough Manager’s office at 610-692-7574 to discuss how those needs may be accommodated.
Preliminary 2022 Budget summarized as follows:
Waste Water Fund
Capital Improvement Fund
Highway Aid Fund
Stream Protection Fund
5-year capital spending plan
Solid Waste and Recycling
Transportation and Streets
Borough of West Chester
Five Year Forecasted Preliminary Budget for Expenditures
Capital Improvements Fund
Highway Aid Fund