City Council looking at property tax hike

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Increase part of proposed 2012-13 budget

By Jesef Williams

City of Lancaster residents may face a property tax increase for the first time in four years.

The proposed hike is part of the drafted 2012-13 budget city of Lancaster officials are now considering.

The recommendation calls for the city’s millage rate to go from 143.5 to 149.7 mills. That results in about a $24 tax increase on a $100,000 owner-occupied home, said City of Lancaster Finance Director James Absher.

The last time the city raised taxes was for the 2008-09 fiscal year, when the rate went from 140 to 143.5 mills.

“We tried our best to hold the line over the past few years,” City Councilman John Howard said about tax rates.

“You got things you got to pay for, and the prices keep going up and up,” he said.

The 2012-13 recommended budget is set at $20.14 million across the city’s five funds. In comparison, the city’s current budget is $22.69 million.

The proposed budget includes a $2 increase in both the monthly water and sewer fees. This year, though, there’s no increase in solid waste fees for residents.

City employees will have the chance to receive 4 percent merit raises and there’s a proposed increase of $500 for City Council members’ yearly stipends and $1,000 for the mayor.

Recommended positions to be added include a narcotics police officer, a patrol officer, a utility worker and a vehicle mechanic.

Though figures are subject to change from now until final reading, Absher said he feels good about the proposed figures.

“The city is in good financial shape,” he said. “We have addressed some goals of council in this budget. We have been diligent and conservative, as we always are.”

Council will vote on first reading of the budget at is Tuesday, June 12, meeting.

Another work session is scheduled for June 19. A public hearing on the budget is set for June 26. That same night, council will consider final reading of the budget.


Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152