Chambersburg to Lower Property Tax in 2020

Half mill decrease as ambulance tax is eliminated

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Chambersburg homeowners and businesses will pay a little less in property taxes next year if Council adopts a proposed 2020 budget outlined by Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill Tuesday night.

Stonehill proposed eliminating a half-mill ambulance tax in 2020, bringing the total property tax rate to 30 mills. Included in the rate is 24 mills to support Chambersburg Police Department, three mills to support Chambersburg Fire Department and three mills to pay off a recreation bond.

The typical single-family homeowner’s borough tax bill will be $512.92 in 2020 if the budget is adopted next month without changes.

Chambersburg
Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill explains 20200 budget during Tuesday’s special meeting. (Photo by Vicky Taylor)

Half of homeowners pay less than that, since the estimate is based on the median assessment set by Franklin County. Most commercial and industrial property owners pay more. In addition to borough taxes, homeowners pay property taxes to the county, school district and library system.

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Chambersburg taxes chart

Stonehill said 66 cents of every property tax dollar paid by borough homeowners goes to the Chambersburg Area School District. Franklin County gets 17 cents of that dollar, the borough gets 16 cents and the library system gets a penny.

Stonehill’s budget does include adjustments to Borough utility rates.

For the fourth time in five years, Stonehill is proposing to drop the Borough electric rate.

He said electric department residential customers would pay about $2 less per month.

“We have one of the lowest residential electric rates in the Commonwealth,” he said. He also noted the borough’s historically low sewer rates and natural gas rates would remain unchanged.

“The average homeowner in Chambersburg with Borough electric and gas saves about $1,000 per year compared to similar customers on other utility systems,” Council President Heath Talhelm said.

Utility Rate Breakdown

  • Chambersburg historically has extremely low utility rates;
  • This is the mission of providing the utility services to its residents and businesses;
  • Even with proposed 2020 adjustments and the levy of a new ambulance fee, the borough’s utility bills are very low;
  • Last year Chambersburg had the lowest residential electric, gas heat, water, sewer and trash rates in Franklin County;
  • In 2020, Chambersburg will have a lower electric rate, saving the average homeowner about $2 per month;
  • Residential trash rates will go up in 2020, increasing by about $2.06 a month.

Ambulance Fee Replaces Tax

Stonehill is proposing a new $7 monthly ambulance fee in 2020 to replace the repealed ambulance tax. The fee supports the borough’s ambulance services only.

“It is Town Council’s responsibility to fund properly the ambulance service,” he said. “We all need EMS at some point.”

He said a flat fee paid by everyone living in the borough is the fairest way to do that.

”It is very fair when compared to a tax, which can only be charged to the assessed value of property,” he said. He pointed out that about 40% of property owners in Chambersburg are exempt from paying property taxes.

“With a fee, commercial and industrial owners, government, educational, and nonprofit customers will all pay the same $7 per month per invoice” He said.

A public budget hearing takes place Monday, November 18. The full-proposed budget is available on the Borough’s website, www.chambersburgpa.gov.

The final budget is scheduled to be adopted in December.

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County Looks at Increasing Library System Funding

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