Avalon adopts 2019 budget

Avalon Council has adopted a $3.3 budget for 2019 with no increase in the property tax millage rate, but officials are still looking at how they might fund the government until property tax revenues start coming in next spring.

The budget, totaling $3,318,509, was adopted during council’s regular meeting held last Thursday, Dec. 13. Some of the major budget expenditures include $1,129,921 for the police department, $505,382 for public works, and $118,176 for the fire department. Capital projects planned for 2019 include the possibility of repairing Orchard Ave from the capital fund, according to borough manager Lorraine Makatura, as well as paving Alley B and Alley C between California and Florence with grant funds.

The borough’s property tax rate remains at 9.83 mills.

The question that remains unanswered is how the borough will pay its bills until property tax revenue comes in during the spring. Many municipalities take out a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) designed specifically for that purpose, borrowing money from a bank and repaying it with interest over the course of the year.

For 2019, Makatura said, officials thought to borrow up to $300,000 from the borough’s own sewer surcharge account, an account dedicated to spending the proceeds of a special sewer tax on mandated repairs to the sanitary sewer system. Makatura said that the borough’s auditors gave officials some indication that this would be legal, although further study by the Avalon solicitor raised some red flags. According to the borough manager, Harrisburg attempted to do the same thing and faced lawsuits from citizens. Although the courts ultimately upheld Harrisburg’s action, there remains a question as to whether the law would apply similarly to a borough rather than a city.

Officials are expected to address that issue when they meet in January, when the regular meetings held on the third Tuesday of the month will begin at 6:30 p.m. rather than the 7 p.m. time of past years.