New Kane budget plan trims tax increase

A new Kane budget plan for this year rolls back a property tax increase from 3 mills to 1.5 mills.Acting before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 30, the Kane Borough Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to unveil the new proposed budget that trims the tax hike in half.Council President Howard Kane joined with Councilwomen Janet Bard and Holly Harris and Councilmen Dennis Drost and Carl "Bill" Tunall to endorse the proposal. It was the first meeting for Tunall, who was elected in November. He replaces Mike Merry, who did not seek re-election.Councilman John Gentilman cast the lone negative vote against the budget plan.The meeting also was the first without veteran Councilman Jim Salvamoser, who died last month just three days after council adopted what was expected to be the final budget.Council agreed Tuesday to re-open budget talks to rescind a 3-mill tax rate that reportedly was based on incorrect property valuation figures. In previous discussions, council believed that 1 mill would generate $36,000 in tax dollars. However, information from the county assessment office now indicates that 1 mill would generate $79,155. As a result, the new budget plan carries a smaller tax increase.Under the old valuation figures, 3 mills would generate $108,000 in additional revenue for the borough. Under the new figures, the 1.5-mill hike will bring in more than $118,000 in additional revenue.The proposed new budget is available for public inspection at the borough office along Bayard Street.Council is expected to adopt a new "final" budget for 2012 when it meets Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. The meeting has been moved up from its regular second-Monday slot because council needs to act to fill Salvamoser's vacancy on council.Persons interested in serving on council are urged to contact the borough office.Some of those interested in serving on council may come from the crowd of budget critics who jammed into the council chambers for Tuesday's meeting.Several in the crowd criticized council for adopting a budget with a 3-mill increase in the property tax rate. Under this hike, the owner of property assessed at $50,000 would pay about $544 this year-- an increase of about $150 over last year.Under the new budget plan with the 1.5-mill increase, the owner of property assessed at $50,000 would pay about $75 more in taxes this year.Even though the proposed tax hike is smaller, the increase is still unpalatable for many of those who spoke out Tuesday.Mick Petruney called for council to cut services rather than raise taxes. He said council's "Band-Aid" approach to its financial woes could mean another tax hike next year.See full article by purchasing the Jan. 4 edition of The Kane Republican.