Chambersburg Borough Council wants to hear from the public about the budget

November 13 – The Chambersburg Borough Council will have a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at 100 South Second Street, where the mic will be open to the public about the proposed 2024 preliminary budget for the borough.

Depending on what comments are made, council will likely approve a tentative budget, subject to further adjustments.

Allen Coffman, borough council president, said, “Primarily I think the budget is done. I think it’s a good one. No real estate tax increase, which should make most people happy I think. But we did have some other things that went up.”

As of Thursday, 51 people had looked at it online.

Some fees are going to increase.

Coffman said, “Water goes up. I don’t have those numbers in front of me. It’s a couple pennies per unit. I think that amounts to about $2.30 a month, something like that. But the other one, we’ll call it the ambulance fee $9.50 goes to $11 and that still doesn’t close the financial gap that’s there.”

What’s the solution to the ambulance fee?

Coffman said, “Ambulance businesses throughout the United States and even in the state are in real financial problems. So I think the ultimate cure will have to come through the state. The state is going to have to help us or the feds are going to have to help us because I think the number I was given to balance this out, that rate would go to about $20 a month instead of $11 a month to just bring it to a valid balance. So we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to have to do that. But there’s got to be some financial fix for it somewhere in the future.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “That’s a good point. Go back to the state. We pay enough taxes and maybe we take some of the woke stuff, park that and take care of people that need some services like the ambulance.”

Coffman said, “The other thing is it’s not just our problem in Chambersburg. It’s a problem throughout the state. Everybody’s got it. So we’re all fighting the same thing.”

Also tonight, council will authorize to adapt the resolution for the capital improvement plan, as well as the street improvement list for 2024 to 2026.

Coffman said, “And also the motor equipment list that’s put out for 2024 to 2026. So they all need to be looked at, discussed briefly because we have discussed them previously and to adopt the resolution to move forward with that.”

The council will also approve an ordinance to replace the electric rates as they are now in its entirety.

Coffman said, “The next thing following that will be approval of an ordinance setting the rules for the electric department moving forward. There’s two separate actions there. It’s my understanding that our surrounding neighbors, those companies are asking for another percentage that’s probably equal to that. So they’re already like 40% ahead of us in their fees. We’ll still be the lowest or amongst the lowest.”

Chambersburg has its own electric department and the suggestion of selling it from a few residents is not going to happen.

Ryan said, “That is one of the dumbest ideas that we could ever hear out of the community. So that’s not going to happen, especially given the rate of increase from the other guys and we recognize that we didn’t sock away some money on this and now we’re starting to replenish whatever we need.”

Coffman said, “Six million was the total over I think five years that they were trying to recoup.”

Council will also authorize an agreement to purchase a piece of property on Hollywell Avenue.

Coffman said, “The amount is $150,000. The purpose for it is to relocate, rebuild a sewage pump station, which needs to be done. It’ll be a little further down than the one we have now and the one we have now is old, decrepit and needs to be replaced. And power purchase agreements for purchasing more power for 2024 and some adjustments on the ordinance for street parking.”

After last week’s election, Coffman’s wife Sharon was elected to serve on borough council – it’s pretty novel in Chambersburg to have a husband and wife serving on the dais.

Ryan pointed out, “I’ve had a whole bunch of people going well, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a dynamic like this before. What’s the seating arrangement going to be like?”

Coffman said, “I talked to Jeffrey Stonehill, the borough manager about that a little bit the other week and generally, the seating placement works that people on the outside generally are the new people that come on board. As they become more senior they move towards the center. He usually gives us a seating suggestion that we do before our reorganization meeting in January. So I don’t know what he might come up with. It should be interesting. I’m sure we won’t sit next to each other.”

Ryan wondered, “What’s it like in the Coffman household? What kind of conversations are you two having about moving forward?”

Coffman said, “I’ve been kidding her about you know, it’s reality now. She’s already received her copy of the budget which I took to her, that was sent to her last Wednesday. Then on Thursday, I got to take to her the copy of the agenda and the associated material, so she’s getting the reading material already.”

The husband and wife duo will sit on borough council together in January.

For tonight’s agenda, click here: http://www.borough.chambersburg.pa.us/pdf/Public%20Edition%2011132023%20Simple%20Agenda.pdf