By Steven Hoffman
At the Nov. 18 council meeting, Kennett Square Borough Manager Brant Kucera unveiled a preliminary budget that does not include a tax increase for 2014.
“This is a calm budget year,” he told council. “This is the first year since I’ve been here that, when I received the budgets from all the departments, there were surpluses in all of them. This is a very good step.”
If the proposed budget is approved by borough council as is, the millage rate will remain at the 2013 level of 5.35 mills. The budget is growing by about .05 percent overall.
Kucera said that the budget includes a 2.5 percent salary increase in uniformed employees and 2 percent increase in non-uniformed wages. The contract for police officers is still being negotiated, the borough manager noted, but he is confident that when it is finalized it will be close enough to the 2.5 percent figure so as not to change the budget projections. Otherwise, there are no new positions expected to be added in 2014.
After taking on a large number of capital improvement projects in 2013, the only ones slated for 2014 are streetscape improvements for West Cypress Street, the installation of a closed-loop traffic system, water meter replacements, and the construction of the Yeatman well. All of these projects are funded in part by grants or paid for with enterprise fund money.
The budget also includes the purchase of three public works vehicles and a police cruiser.
Kucera said that the borough is being helped by an expanding tax base, thanks in part to the arrival in 2014 of Victory Brewing and the Magnolia Place mixed-use development.
While the millage rate will remain the same for 2014, there will be inflationary increases of 2 percent for water and sewer fees and 3 percent for solid waste fees.
Kucera noted that Kennett Square is still right in the middle of the 15 boroughs in Chester County—seven of those municipalities have higher tax rates, while seven have lower rates. And some of the municipalities with lower rates don’t provide utilities, full-time police protection, or some of the public works services that Kennett Square provides.
“We stack up very favorably compared to those municipalities,” Kucera said.
Kennett Square Borough's preliminary 2014 budget holds the millage rate at 5.35 mills. The millage rates of other municipalities shown here are based on 2013 figures.