Waynesboro Responds to Chambersburg’s Calls for Reassessment – Borough Council Meeting Recap

WAYNESBORO – A public hearing regarding a proposed LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance) ordinance kicked off Wednesday, 17 January 2024, night’s Borough Council Meeting. This particular ordinance will permit certain local tax abatement for improvements within a designated deteriorated area of the community, and will provide some tax relief to additional assessment values on properties within said area. The hearing proceeded without public comment, and the ordinance itself was later approved by the Council.

Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman took the stand to give a presentation regarding Chambersburg’s request for a comprehensive reassessment of real estate tax valuations. Coffman asserted that an updated reassessment process is long overdue in Franklin County, with the last one occurring in 1962. He also argued against a county commissioner’s accusation that the Chambersburg Borough Council simply wanted to raise taxes, stating that a reassessment is necessary for the promotion of a fair and equitable property tax system. While some property owners will see an increase in taxes, others will experience a decrease based on the reestablished value of their real estate. The Waynesboro Borough Council agreed to send a letter to the Franklin County Commissioners requesting information for a reassessment.

Following staff comments and an approval of the consent agenda, committee reports were assessed. All personnel matters were approved, as well as a request for a reserved accessible parking space at 134 N. Potomac Street and a request to install mountable curbing and a 2’ concrete pad behind the curb area on the southwest corner of E. Ninth Street and Slate Hill Road. The Economic Development Committee mentioned that the Community and Human Services organization is moving due to an increase in rent, and stated that any knowledge of potential new locations would be helpful. Finally, the Council approved a payment of bills as presented by the Finance Committee.

Unfinished business involved the aforementioned adoption of the LERTA ordinance, as well as an authorization of the Civil Service Commission to perform ongoing testing until all positions in the police and fire departments have been filled.

New business began with an adoption of the Franklin County 2023 Hazard Mitigation Plan as the official plan of the Borough. The Commonwealth Code Inspection Service, Inc. was added as a potential rental inspection agency for residents to choose when selling rental properties, and the proposed exploration period with WellSpan Health regarding a potential partnership for the development of an emergency services campus and healthcare facility at 500 East Main Street was extended from Feb. 1 to Aug. 1.

The Council approved Fiscal Management Policy No. 2024-01, which outlined purchasing card, credit card, and vendor account policies. Council members also nominated Mayor Richard “Dick” Starliper for consideration by the Association of Mayors of the Borough of Pennsylvania as the 2024 Pennsylvania Mayor of the Year. Starliper has served since Jan. 2, 2006, and reportedly represents the quintessential small-town mayor through his participation in parades, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, community events, etc.

Resolution No. 2024-03 was approved, thereby authorizing the submission of an application to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquencies. This application will allow the Waynesboro Police Department to seek funding for recruitment efforts via the Law Enforcement Grant Program in order to fill their three full-time vacancies. In addition, the Council approved a proposal from the Witmer Public Safety Group, Inc. for the purchase of six DEMO MSA GI SCBA, to be utilized by the Waynesboro Fire Department.

The meeting concluded with an authorization to advertise a proposed ordinance to amend the Borough of Waynesboro Police Pension Plan. This amendment will provide a benefit for all chiefs of police consistent with the pension benefit set forth in the Borough Code at 8 Pa. C.S. § 1105. Said benefit will allow a pension to be given to any police chief who has reached 60 years of age and obtained at least 10 years of service.