Rising pension, insurance costs and a long-awaited culvert project are just some of the factors contributing to a significant real estate tax increase for Emmaus homeowners next year.
Emmaus council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that will allow passage of a proposed $12.549 million budget later this month.
The budget will raise real estate taxes by $118 for a home assessed at the borough average of $150,000, according to Borough Manager Shane Pepe.
"(The budget) is going to hurt no matter what," Pepe said. "It was not an easy budget. The goal is re-opening the budget next year if there's more revenue."
Council, which will finalize the budget on Dec. 16, said it will continue to look for additional revenues to ease the burden on residents.
Millage rates for 2014 will rise to 5.075 mills from last year's 4.325 mills, according to councilman and finance chairman Brian Holtzhafer.
The millage will be split with 4.5254 mills of tax levy earmarked for the borough's revenue fund and the remaining 0.5496 mills for the creation of a fire fund tax.
"This is a more challenging budget than in the past and I'm disappointed overall in where we are," said councilman Wesley Barrett.
Council members pointed out that the budget includes money for a $200,000 emergency culvert repair on South 10th Street, the hiring of two additional police officers, buying a dump truck and several road projects.
"We've been kicking the can down the road on these things," said councilman Nathan Brown. "This budget keeps moving the budget forward."
The budget also eliminated the full-time positions of the assistant director of public works, a public works employee and a paramedic. Other budget cuts included a reduction of hours for seasonal and part-time borough workers.