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Cumberland commissioners split on budget tax hike

By , - Last modified: November 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM

On Thursday, Cumberland County will unveil a preliminary budget that will include a property tax increase to balance the budget alongside pay freezes and cost cuts, but the commissioners are still seeking a final number and have differences on what will work best.

At the moment, they agree a 12 percent increase is the best place to start discussions since that would allot enough money to cover county expenses without an exhaustive increase that might be too much for property owners to bear in the slow economy, they said Tuesday.

That number would equal about a $2 a month increase for many properties, Commissioner Barbara Cross said.

However, there are far more options to consider if the county can find more savings in its departments, Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said. He would prefer about a 14.5 percent increase spread over two years with the smaller increase, 6.5 percent, levied in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014, he said.

The county could sell off some unused land outside of Carlisle, which would be a one-time revenue shot yet get those properties back on the tax rolls, providing for future revenue and potential economic development opportunities, Eichelberger said.

The county really has just rough numbers to move forward on further discussions, Commissioner Jim Hertzler said.

Much has to be talked about before the county can pass a budget so no final decisions have been made about tax rates. County staff last month had warned without changes, a 22 percent increase might be necessary.

The county put out some preliminary options Tuesday morning to outline what different rate increases might mean for properties assessed at various values. Click here for a look at the rates, selected property assessments and correlating increases.

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