The Bath Borough Council met for a special meeting on Monday, December 18 to vote on various agenda items.
During the brief meeting, council unanimously approved a resolution to restate the borough’s public accounting firm for the 2023 audit at a cost of $14,790, which was already in the budget and is the same firm the borough used for the last four years.
Council also unanimously authorized the borough manager to execute an agreement with Colliers Engineering and Design regarding a proposal dated Oct. 24, 2023, for the purpose of providing stormwater program statistical data and GIS impervious area determinations.
In other news, council adopted an ordinance for the 2024 budget with Councilman Douglas Hamadyk being the only oppositional vote.
The budget includes a half mill property tax rate increase, which is 3% or roughly $28 per year for the average assessed value of property. This brings the total millage to 17.45 mills, whereas the borough retains the debt servicing tax of 1.25 mills and the 0.5 fire tax rate.
Borough Manager Bradford T. Flynn expressed that real estate taxes provide the borough with 58% of the total general fund operating revenues, which is the largest revenue source and would generate approximately $971,104.72, however the borough typically collects 95% of anticipated revenue and some property owners receive the 2% discount for paying their taxes early, so the anticipated net revenue slightly drops when considering these valuation factors.
The borough’s next largest revenue source comes from Act 511 taxes, which generates about 29% of the borough’s revenue.
The borough’s largest fund is the general fund, which covers general governmental operations such as administration and finance, personnel services, engineering, legal services, code enforcement activities and plan/permit reviews, zoning administration, technology, some highway and facilities maintenance, and administrative support to appointed boards and commissions.
The borough anticipates $1,607,468.86 for total 2024 revenues and expenditures. General fund expense highlights include the following: two office full-time employees and healthcare; a 5 to 7% employee healthcare rate increase; zoning/code contract increasing by 7%; engineering services increasing by 3%; right-to-know administration due to 2022-2023 having the highest frequency of requests in more than 10 years of recordkeeping, with $31,250 being set aside for auditing, bookkeeping, legal and information technology service provider work associated with RTK requests; $30,000 set aside for upgrading IT hardware and software; sending two Public Works crewmembers for CDL training; $12,173 for the mechanical overhaul of the Monocacy Creek clock; and interoperating fund transfers of $44,045.91 to sustain the capital improvement fund and $53,339.28 to continue developing the new MS4 fund.
Total revenues anticipated for the solid waste and recycling fund are $561,240, whereas expenditures are anticipated to be $472,517.75, which includes a build-out of in-house utility billing estimated at a cost of $14,000.
The 2024 budget also includes a new fund for the three municipal separate storm sewer system projects that must be completed within the next few years to reduce pollution of stormwater into the Monocacy Creek, which are estimated to cost the borough between $500,000 and $800,000.
The MS4 fund anticipates an initial fund balance of at least $75,000 and another $53,339.28 to be generated through 2023, with expenditures estimated to be $74,250. Expenditures include $15,000 to $25,000 in legal costs and $25,000 in engineering work.
For the capital improvement fund, the borough anticipates $1,001,817.49 in cash for 2024, with more than half assumed from grant opportunities. Expenditures are estimated to be $797,771.58 and include the following: engineering services estimated at $30,000 for the Old Forge streetlight replacement project and capital road work; new 10-ton dump truck for Public Works; replace and add new LED streetlights within the Old Forge Estates community; and Haidle Avenue and Barrall Avenue road reconstruction.
The borough’s highway aid fund is subsidized by the Department of Transportation’s liquid fuels funding, which includes fuel taxes (paid at the gas pump) based on the 6.14 total miles of locally owned roads and streets, plus the most recent Census (2020) population figure of 2,808 persons. The total anticipated revenue for the fund is $69,321.07, which is a 1.4% increase from 2023, whereas highway aid fund expenditures are estimated to be $37,090.74 for 15% of the total cost of the 10-ton dump truck being purchased for Public Works.
The fire protection fund includes the 0.5 mill hydrant tax, which will generate approximately $27,825.35 that is fully transferred to the Bath Vol. Fire Department in bi-annual installments.
Last, the borough’s operating reserve fund, which contains roughly one-third of the typical operating budget, generates revenue through bank interest that is currently set at a 0.84% rate. The expected net will be $3,694.15 in revenue and will provide an estimated fund balance by the end of 2024 of $441,634.91 with no anticipated expenditures.
The operating reserve fund would help cover any unforeseen financial shortfalls but would be exhausted in just under four months of operation given the borough’s monthly expenditures, which is why it is important for the borough to continue building to help handle financial challenges that may arise.
A copy of the 2024 Bath Borough budget can be found on the borough’s website.
The Bath Borough Council biennial reorganization meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 2, the next regular scheduled meeting will be held on Monday, February 12 and the next bi-monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 14, each at 6 p.m. in the borough’s office building, located at 121 S. Walnut St.