Higher tax increase expected in Kane budget

The next Kane borough budget will carry a tax rate increase, but it will be higher than the 1.5-mill hike called for in the tentative spending plan adopted last month.How much higher?The answer should be given Monday when the Kane Borough Council is expected to adopt a final budget for 2012. Adoption of the budget is expected to take place during council's meeting Monday at 4 p.m. at the borough building along Bayard Street. The meeting is open to the public.Council held a third budget workshop Thursday. Some council members discussed ways to trim the budget such as cutting a full-time police officer. Others justified the need to raise taxes to cover operating expenses.It appears that a revised budget plan boosts the tax rate by 4 mills from 7.875 mills to 11.875 mills-- a 34 percent increase. Owners of borough property assessed at $50,000 now pay about $394 per year in borough taxes. A 4-mill increase would raise the tax burden by $200 to about $594 for a property assessed at $50,000.There is mixed support for a 4-mill tax increase.Councilman Mike Merry, who is leaving council when his term expires Dec. 31, said he would "not agree" to a 4-mill tax increase. He said previous councils should have raised taxes in "baby steps" to avoid such a large tax increase.Councilman Dennis Drost proposed a 3-mill tax increase along with the elimination of one full-time member of the five-member borough police department. He said the borough could use part-time police officers to provide around-the-clock police protection.In a message heard over the speaker phone held by Drost, former borough police chief "Yogi" Osmer supported the use of part-time police officers.He said the borough "could be all right" and operate with "no problems at all" by cutting one full-time police officer and using more part-time help. He said a full-time officer is "very expensive" due to the cost of health insurance and other fringe benefits.See full article by purchasing the Dec. 9 edition of The Kane Republican.