Bath Borough Council held a special meeting for their 2023 budget review on Wednesday, September 14.
Borough Manager Bradford Flynn identified that the borough’s goals for 2022 and 2023 were the roll-out of the Rental and Inspection Registry Program, road and infrastructure improvements, creating the official borough map, increasing Parking and Code Enforcement, improving Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) infrastructure, and funding improvements for the Bath Volunteer Fire Department.
With $480,000 of improvements over the next five years, the borough’s goals through 2027 include planning for the Capital Improvement Fund, reducing the borough’s $195,000 of debt, reserve funding, maintaining financial relevancy, Parks and Recreation redevelopment opportunities, Public Works investments such as road improvements, traffic signalization upgrades, and traffic pattern alternatives, and monitoring policing efforts.
Bath has six different fund accounts, with their General Fund account being the largest. Flynn pointed out that there are no outstanding big-ticket items remaining for the year.
The combined total for 2023 General Fund Expenses is estimated to cost $1,482,196.83 and includes various funds for: the General Government, Mayor, Borough Manager and Administration Costs, Auditing and Financial Administration, Tax Collection, Legal Services, Secretary and Office Administration, General Gov. Administration, Engineering Services, Municipal Building and Property, Public Safety and Animal Control, Fore Company, UCC and Code Enforcement, Planning/Zoning/Property Maintenance Code, Emergency Management, Grass and Weed Control, Public Works and Roads Department, Cleaning Streets and Gutters, Winter Maintenance Services, Traffic Control Devices, Street Lighting, Sidewalks and Crosswalks, Storm Sewers and Drains, Repairs of Tools and Machinery, Maintenance and Repair of Roads, Participation/Recreation/Civic Events, Parks and Trails, Civic/Military/Celebrations/Parades, Debt Principal, Debt Interest, ER Paid Benefits and Withholdings, Borough Insurances, Miscellaneous Expenses, and Interoperating Fund Transfers.
The borough also has projected the General Fund Revenues to be $1,482,196.83 through Real-Estate Taxes, Earned Income Taxes, Local Services Taxes, Business Licenses and Permits, Fines, Interest Earnings, Rents and Royalties, State Shared Revenues, Charges for Services, Public Safety, and Interoperating Fund Transfers.
The total 2023 Borough of Bath MSW Fund expenses are projected to cost $384,646 for trash and recycling costs, and the projected MSW Fund Revenues are estimated to be $388,770 with a Net Ordinary Income of $4,124.
The 2023 Borough of Bath Capital Improvement Fund expenses are estimated to be $570,500 with the same amount for Capital Improvement Fund Revenues for Capital and Operating Grants, taxes, and transfers from other borough funds.
The total Highway Aid Fund expenses are projected to cost the borough $85,000, however, due to the previous fund balance and Act 44 Allocation, total Highway Aid Fund Revenues is estimated to be $215,060 for a Net Ordinary Income of $130,060.
The 2023 Borough of Bath Operating Reserve Fund will be $140,550.46 for a transfer of funds to the Capital Improvement Fund. The Operating Reserve Fund Revenues is estimated to be $523,675.17 for a Net Ordinary Income of $383,124.71 largely due to the fund balance being $433,000.
Last, the 2023 Borough of Bath Fire Protection Fund has expenses estimating $27,316.67 for Fire Protection Services, whereas the Fire Protection Fund Revenues are estimated to be $29,390.35 due to real estate taxes, which will create a Net Ordinary Income of $2,073.68.
Flynn expressed that Bath cannot stave off a tax increase due to increasing costs and the necessary repairs for deteriorating roads, which has cost the borough approximately $154,886.04 per year on average for the last 10 years. Road repairs in 2024 are projected to cost $344,275.58, and in 2025, Broad Street will cost the borough anywhere from $150,824.31 to $828,097.87 and might require the borough to take out a loan to pay for the road repair.
Manager Flynn shared that a 4.5% tax increase may be necessary to complete all projects and expenses. Council President Michele Ehrgott expressed that she understands the borough needs a tax increase, but that a 4.5% hike is too high.
Councilwoman Phyllis Andrews asked Flynn what the least amount of increase in taxes would be. Flynn was unsure at the time but said that he would need to crunch the numbers to figure that out.
Andrews suggested an incremental tax increase every year to reduce a high increase, and council members were also in favor of incremental taxes.
The budget can be amended and is only a draft of estimated costs. Flynn assured residents that it will change before it is adopted tentatively in November. When the budget is adopted, council will know what the tax increase for residents will be, which will hit residents’ wallets January 1.
Bath Mayor Fiorella Mirabito urges residents to come to council meetings in person or via Zoom to stay up to date with what is going on in the borough.
Questions can be directed to Borough Manager Brad Flynn by calling 610-837-6525.
The next Bath Borough Council meeting will be Monday, October 3 at 6 p.m. in the municipal building, located at 121 S. Walnut St.