Pottstown Borough Council, neighbors discuss future of Ricketts Center

 

POTTSTOWN, Pa. – The preliminary Pottstown 2020 budget, which includes a 4.25% real estate tax increase, was presented to Pottstown Borough Council at a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday night.

Although still recovering from the blow of Pottstown Medical Center being purchased by Tower Health in 2016, and the loss of nearly $100 million in tax assessable real estate, the borough believes that tax increases can be lower than in the previous three years.

Finance Director Janice Lee and Borough Manager Justin Keller gave the 2020 budget presentation. The projected real estate assessment is just over $760 million, essentially level with the 2019 assessment. There are 313 tax exempt parcels in 2020, down 13 from 326 in 2019, a positive sign for future tax assessments because more parcels are being added to the tax rolls.

The preliminary budget has a 4.25% millage increase to 13.214 mills. This would bring the budget into balance with expenses and revenues of $45,276,893.

The MMO (Minimum Municipal Obligation) for the police pension fund increased $263,015 to $1,784,670. The MMO for non-uniformed employees rose $415,280 to $1,320,150. The unfunded liability for all post-employment benefits, largely medical insurance, is a little over $28,331,000.

AFSCME members will receive a 4% pay increase while management will receive a 2% increase with another 1% available if the manager receives a positive performance review. The budget allows for the reinstatement of two police officer positions.

Solicitor Charles Garner advised the council that they had until early December to vote on a final budget.

2020 Census Briefing

Victoria Johnson of the United States Census Bureau and Tricia Keedy Jones, local census representative, briefed the council on plans for the 2020 Census.

Johnson told council members that the census can be completed by mail, phone or online. In the case of unresponsive households, census enumerators will go to the home to get the required information.

Johnson noted that in the 2010 census, two census tracts in Pottstown had a 25% to 35% unresponsive rate. She said if it happens again in 2020 that it would jeopardize Pottstown receiving its fair share of federal funding for Montgomery County.

Ricketts Center

The council heard presentations from four of the five organizations that have expressed interest in running the Ricketts Recreation Center. The center has been managed by the Olivet Boys and Girls Club of Reading for years, but the club elected not to renew its contract.

The presenting organizations were STRIVE, from Pottstown; the Tri-County YWCA, located in Pottstown and Norristown; Boyertown Multi-Service, Boyertown; and the Parks and Recreation Department of Pottstown. The representative of CCLU, Pottstown was unable to attend the meeting.