The West Chester Borough budget for 2013 makes council member John Manion sick to his stomach.
“We had a draft budget ready to go,” Manion said at Tuesday night’s borough finance committee meeting. “But then we got some bad news on Monday when Thornbury Township decided to go with WEGO.”
The borough had been in talks with Thornbury Township to provide police services after Thornbury originally dropped out of the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department contract negotiations.
The deal with West Chester would have brought in an extra $800,000 for the borough.
“We drafted a budget with Thornbury built in. Now we have to work towards balancing the budget,” Manion said.
As it stands now, the borough faces a budget deficit of $341,791.
To make matters worse, the borough is also facing a pension obligation for 2013 of $526,907 as part of that deficit.
“These issues have to be addressed in some way,” Manion said. “But I’m not sure I have the answer.”
Manion threw out several suggestions about how the borough could make up its deficit.
“It always comes down to increasing revenue or decreasing services,” Manion said.
Both Manion and council member Jordan Norley said they would not be in favor of a tax increase.
“I’m not in favor in increasing the tax rate in any way,” Norley said. “If we keep upping taxes then we won’t provide an incentive for people to move or work in the borough.”
Among the other suggestions made by the finance committee were creating a storm water fee, charging a trash pickup fee and reducing funding to the Business Improvement District.
Currently, the Business Improvement District receives $85,000 from the borough to help foster growth and business in downtown West Chester. Norley suggested reducing that number to $15,000.
“Eventually we’re going to get to a tipping point,” Manion said. “There’s already a significant tax burden on the residents. These issues need to be addressed in someway.”
Borough Council has until November to propose a balanced budget that will be voted on in December. Any new fee or taxes would be announced at that time.