It looks like Waynesboro Borough Council will weigh in on the reassessment needs of the county

January 18 – Last night the Waynesboro Borough Council voted to send a letter to the Franklin County Commissioners requesting some dialogue on reassessment. 

Franklin County has not done a reassessment of property values since 1962. 

Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman attended the Waynesboro Borough Council meeting last night to discuss the issue. 

Jason Stains, Waynesboro Borough Manager said, “I think Allen made a very good point at the millage caps that are imposed by the Pennsylvania Borough Code on boroughs and all of your municipalities, borough wise, are starting to run up against those caps. He pointed out that Chambersburg is very close to their cap. Waynesboro is 23 mils. We can go 30 mils. Shippensburg I believe was 27 mils. In Chambersburg and Waynesboro that general tax rate does not cover our police services. So an interesting discussion from Allen to our Borough Council and Borough Council unanimously voted to send that letter requesting some dialogue between the county commissioners and the municipalities in the county.”

Emergency services and the fire department also get capped for funding. 

Stains said, “We’re capped at the state maximum of three mils for fire protection, and a half mil for rescue and EMS services. There was some dialogue going on at the state level, some interest in removing that cap and I know that the borough of Chambersburg and also Waynesboro passed resolutions that went on to the State Association of Boroughs asking them to take it under advisement and start working towards some dialogue in Harrisburg to remove those caps or at least raise them so that additional funds can come in for those purposes.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “I think people get a little confused sometimes when they hear you guys talking about mills and caps on mills. I think maybe a very simplistic way to say it is let’s say you’re capped at 10%. You can only charge properties 10% to be able to finance your municipality. Well, if property values are said to be $1,000 that means 10% is $100. That’s what you would have to run your municipality. If that’s being artificially held low at that value of $1,000 and that cap is 10%, you run out of what you can do. So if the property is actually worth $50,000 in total the properties you can see then how much more you would get from that same 10% cap. I think that’s what people need to understand. You guys are running out of room to be able to get the money you need to run the municipality because of artificially low suppressed values of property.”

Stains said, “I think that was a great example. You can go down the street on the Franklin County parcel mapper and you and your neighbor, your house may have been built in the same year, and I think Allen pointed out that someone may have a three car garage and someone may have a two car garage, and that two car garage home that that should theoretically be valued a little less than the neighbor with a three car garage is actually paying more taxes. So it’ll be interesting to see if we can get some dialogue going on the topic and we’ll see what comes of it in the end.”

Some other business in Waynesboro last night included rental inspections. 

Stains explained, “We have been doing rental inspection when a property transfers. We’re not coming in every couple of years to do the rental inspection. It’s just when the property transfers and we only have one agency that was able to do that. We’re trying to give our residents choices. So we had a second agency that contacted us and they wanted to also be a choice in that process. So Borough Council approved the Commonwealth Code Inspection Service to do rental inspections and that gives the property owner the choice of who they want to use when it comes time to sell a rental property.”

The county emergency plan was also discussed. 

Stains said, “Franklin County created the 2023 Hazard Mitigation Plan and every municipality is then requested to review that. As one of our council members pointed out last night that plan is over 400 pages. That’s a comprehensive document that puts into place all kinds of different things for any loss of property or life in the county and rules and procedures that are going to be followed. So Borough Council adopted a resolution recognizing that plan and that will be sent to the county and then all that information gets sent up through PEMA and higher up.”

Council also talked about Waynesboro Community and Human Services on Walnut Street. The group provides community nursing service, food outreach and clothing. 

Stains said, “We’ve been informed that they’re going to have to relocate out of their present building because the rent is going up, and they just cannot afford it any longer. So they are looking for locations in the community to continue to serve the residents of the area. There is some concern by the council and borough that this much needed organization finds a new home within the community. We’re going to hope that they can find some place and keep an eye out if any real estate comes available or any churches or civic organizations that have additional space, if they can lend that space out. I think they need something over 3000 square feet to continue their operations.”