Chesco residents’ tax break poised to end

After a four-year respite, Chester County taxpayers will see their county taxes increase if a preliminary budget remains unchanged.

At the Chester County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26, the commissioners reviewed figures that showed that the owner of a $166,630 home — the median assessed value in the county — would pay a projected bill of $728.01, a hike of $34.33.

That figure represents a .206 mill – from 4.163 to 4.369 mills – or a 4.95 percent increase. (A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.)

The proposed budget will be presented to the public at a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. It will be held in the commissioners’ boardroom on the sixth floor of the county offices building at 313 West Market Street in West Chester.

The preliminary numbers show a total budget of $548 million in operating and capital expenses, up from $545 million in 2016. Chief Operating Officer Mark Rupsis explained that some of the budget challenges included dealing with rising costs for public safety and health care as well as maintaining county buildings, fund balances, and Landscapes3, the county’s comprehensive plan.

In addition, projections show that the federal and state grant revenue budget will decrease in 2017 by more than $5.7 million, and tax base growth is expected to dip to 0.73 percent from 0.87 percent in 2016.

Chester County, one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, has retained one of the lowest tax rates in southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2016 the county became one of fewer than 40 counties in the country to receive the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for the 25th year in a row. The award recognizes exemplary budget practices that serve as a model.

In 2016, the county also received three separate triple-A bond ratings, the 10th year for maintaining the highest possible rating status. Chester County is the only county in Pennsylvania that holds the three triple-A rating distinctions and is one of just 43 counties nationwide, according to county officials.

 

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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