Closing down Gay Street was designed to help the business district survive the pandemic. Now the Borough finds itself in need of some help as well.

The Borough of West Chester is facing a $1.7-million-dollar deficit

As we’ve been aware of for a while now, the Borough of West Chester is in a bit of a financial crisis. Significant cuts and postponements were made to the 2020 budget to drag expenses back in line with revenues which are down significantly due to the pandemic. Now as we turn to look ahead at 2021, we begin to see the full effects of these cuts.  

Last month the Borough Department heads met to make their initial 2021 budget presentations to the Borough’s Finance and Revenue committee and the general takeaway is, if nothing changes, the Borough is expecting a nearly $1.7-million-dollar-deficit to its general fund next year. There are generally two ways to deal with a budget deficit: cut projects or raise taxes.

This Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. the Finance and Revenue committee along with Borough Manager Mike Perrone, and Finance Director Barbara Lionti, will meet again, this time to discuss one of these options – a possible property tax increase for 2021 – and you are invited to join. So you are prepared for Wednesday’s call, here’s a review of your options. 

Option 1: Raise taxes 

Property taxes will likely increase for 2021 – the question now is, how much?

According to documentation provided in the Preliminary 2021 Budget, “millage would need to be increased to 9.20 [from 6.96] to fund the deficit in the General Fund.” For the average resident this would mean a real estate tax increase of $306. 

Documentation of potential tax increase as provided in the 2021 preliminary budget plan.

Now if you don’t want to raise taxes, the other option is to cut expenses. 

Option 2: Budget cuts

The preliminary budget also includes the list of capital projects being requested by the departments. Now since this is a budget document there is not a lot of detail about the proposed projects outside a brief description, their estimated cost and the department that requested them.  

2021 Capital/Equipment Projects as requested by Department 

West Chester Public Works department has request $130,000 to upgrade the street lights.

Information Technology Services – total request $20K

  • AC Unit for Server Room (IT) 20,000 

Fire Department – total request $1.925 million

  • 3 Squad Vehicles – 375,000
  • 2 Fire Trucks (2020 Carryover) – 1,550,000 

Police Department – total request $189K

  • AED Replacement – 10,000
  • Firearms – 24,000
  • 2 Police Vehicles 120,000
  • BID Cameras – 35,000

Parks & Recreation – total request $200K

  • Marshall Square Park Playground Upgrade – 45,000
  • Hoopes Park Improvements – 25,000
  • Everhart Park Upgrades – 130,000 

Waste Water – total request $1.145M

  • Taylor Run Filter Project (2020 Carryover) – 550,000
  • Goose Creek Electrical Substation Upgrade (2020 Carryover) – 100,000
  • Taylor Run Gas Recirculation (2020 Carryover) – 110,000
  • Sewer Relining Project – 385,000 

Parking Services – total request $1.42M

  • Bicentennial Garage Roof Repair – 300,000
  • 70 Kiosks – 600,000
  • Structural Analysis for 2 Garages – 120,000
  • Painting in the Garages – 50,000
  • Chestnut Garage Repairs – 350,000

Public Works – total request $148K

  • Public Works Garage AC Ventilation 18,000
  • Street Lights Node Installation (PW) 130,000

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the Borough’s financial situation and how it may affect you, be sure to attend tomorrow’s meeting. The Finance meeting is virtual and a link to the Webex can be found on the Borough website home page.

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6 thoughts on “West Chester Wants Your Thoughts on a Property Tax Increase

    1. Hi Libby, you have to go to the homepage of the Borough website, scroll down to the meeting section and then click on the webex link. There is no sign up – just click the link at 6:30 to view.

      1. Ok check that – just got clarification from another reader. I have not registered for meetings in the past but I may have gotten lucky. Here is proper protocol-
        Love your blog and I know it reaches a lot of people so wanted to let you know that you have to get permission to join Borough mtgs in advance. Can’t just click on the webex link that evening and get in.

        A friend requested the link for tomorrow evening’s meeting from Jeff Carbohn prior which is what you have to do for. every. single. meeting. I was hoping you could share this protocol and link with your readers.

        Thank you!

  1. Option 3: Foster an environment where the borough protects its business constituents from draconian and unreasonable anti-business mandates. The warm weather is only going to last so long and when it’s January with only 50% maximum capacity in retail/restaurant establishments, there’s going to be a further decrease in tax revenue. Let’s allow businesses and patrons to assess and mitigate their own risks. Open up the borough economy 100% and there will be no need to raise taxes or make cuts. Everyone wins. This does not have to be a zero-sum game.

  2. As a senior citizen, i am against tax increases. We have all been affected by the virus. We cant just ask for more money to live. We all have to just tighten our belts ; so does the borough

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