Chambersburg Borough Council got a first look at the budget last night

November 7 – Chambersburg Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill presented the 2024 budget for the Borough of Chambersburg last night to the Borough Council. 

Chambersburg is the 12th largest budget in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Allen Coffman, borough council president, said, “A lot of time goes into preparing this. We’ve got a document that all of us have now. It’s in a binder, probably a three inch binder. Nobody can ever say that the Borough Chambersburg isn’t transparent about what they’re doing, and what their utilities are doing because it’s all in there. You just need to take the time to read it.”

Utilities are what make the Chambersburg budget that big. Chambersburg maintains their own utilities. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Let’s be awfully clear on this, too. We want to keep the gas and utilities in the Borough of Chambersburg. I’ve heard some stupid idiots thinking that we should sell that off. They are so dumb and so misinformed, people thinking we should sell the utilities off. The energy prices in Chambersburg are much lower because of that.”

Chambersburg also gets a PILOT from gas and electricity.

Coffman explained, “A PILOT is a Payment In Lieu Of Tax, which is allowed to be done under state law. If we did not have the gas and electric utility, our budget would be 12.56 mils higher than what it is right now. So those utilities are generating and giving to the borough residents the equivalent of 12 and a half mills. So that is significant. A mill is a little over $200,000. So that’s their worth to us, plus the fact of the low utility rates. So no reason to sell utilities.”

Ryan said, “Even with the raise on some of these fees, electric and gas, you’re building up a base and you’re still going to be under whatever West Penn power has on their minds. Honestly, why on earth would you sell that? It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve heard out of some of the dumber people in dumb land.”

There will be no increase in the real estate tax. 

Coffman said, “All the increases that will be taken for 2024 will be on services, not on real estate. So, here’s the quick rundown. Electric increase is probably going to be about 11.3 percent increase for most customers. It still puts us way below everybody else. They’re at 40-some percent and they’re asking for more. Water increase will go up about $2.10 per month for the average customer. Sanitation will go up about $3 per month for the average customer. Storm sewer fees, unless somebody has things that they’ve done to meet the storm sewer requirements to get a discount, they won’t get the 30 percent discount anymore. That goes away. The ambulance fee will go from $9.50 a month to $11 a month and it’s still losing about $1.9 million per year. So that’s the quick down and dirty on what’s going to happen with rates in the borough Chambersburg for 2024 should we adopt this budget.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “People have to understand there’s no way you guys probably couldn’t increase this when you have inflation going up the way it is, when you see the cost of utilities because of the policies of our governor of our wonderful president, there’s no way you guys can just stay where you are, nice and low, lower than everybody else. I just want to make that point so people understand the importance of who you put into office and the policies that they put in place.”

Coffman added, “The other thing that Jeffrey brought up last night, he talked not only about the importance of the tax rates set by the county, the readjustment of real estate values, needs to be done. It hasn’t been done since 1961, 1962. We’re the longest county in the state of Pennsylvania from doing a reassessment or readjustment or true value look at the property.”

Ryan asked, “He should go to the commissioners, shouldn’t he?” 

Coffman said, “I think he’s making the point to talk to elected officials. I think that’s the right way.”

It looks like a traffic patrol unit won’t make it to the 2024 budget for Chambersburg. 

Coffman said, “Obviously it’s more money. So if you do that, there’s going to be a tax increase with it. So it’s something we’re going to have to struggle with over the next year. It looks like the 2025 budget is going to be a lot tougher than this year from what I’m told. We’ll see what that future brings us but it won’t be in the budget for 2024.”