Calls for Reassessment and Zoning Code Amendments – Chambersburg Borough Council Meeting Recap

CHAMBERSBURG – Outgoing council members and borough retirees of 2023 were recognized at the start of Monday night’s, 8 January 2024, Borough Council Meeting. During this recognition, President Allen Coffman took a moment to thank Alice Elia, Kathy Leedy, and Sharon Bigler for their years of service on the Council.

Following the approval of the consent agenda, the Council unanimously authorized a request to the Franklin County Commissioners that they undertake a comprehensive reassessment of real estate valuations for tax purposes. According to Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill, Franklin County has not undergone a reassessment since 1962 – the longest period of time out of any of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

These assessed values are critical, as they are used to determine the fair and equitable distribution of property taxes. As a result of them not having been updated for over 60 years, some property owners are most likely paying too much in taxes, while others are paying too little. “Such unfairness undermines the entire tax system and leads to serious qualms for the payment of real estate taxes, which is already an unfortunate burden on our property owners,” Stonehill asserted. He also claimed that the out-of-date assessments are a direct threat to the financing of police, fire, and EMS services throughout Franklin County.

Though the reassessment will be an expensive and time-consuming process, all council members agreed that a just property tax system is necessary for the wellbeing of Franklin County residents. President Coffman was authorized to approach the Commissioners about reassessment.

The final item on the agenda allowed the Planning and Zoning Commission to review zoning code amendments. These amendments will involve prohibiting incompatible uses in the downtown area and incentivizing new housing included as goal recommendations in the Chambersburg Vision 2035 Comprehensive Plan, as adopted by the Town Council in September of 2022. The Commission will make monthly reports to the Council regarding their future discussions and implementations.

Councilmember Stacy Short has officially been sworn in as a representative of the Fourth Ward, though there is still a position available alongside her. The Council has put out an advertisement to fill the role. Applicants who are at least 18 years of age, registered voters, and residents of the Fourth Ward for a minimum of one year must send in their applications by Jan. 18 to be considered.