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Tax rate tumbling in Indian Lake Borough

November 15, 2018 GMT

Indian Lake Borough officials put their second tax decrease in two years to paper as they passed a preliminary budget Wednesday.

Council members approved a $1.35 million proposed budget for 2019, which includes a 2-mill property tax decrease. This would bring the tax rate to 14.3 mills.

Council member Bob Hanson said the decrease allows the borough to give some money back to residents while still paying down its debt.

“The right number would have been a 3-mill deduction, but with buying the golf course, you had a lot of unknowns,” he said.

The borough lowered taxes last year by 3 mills because a 2013 dam remediation project cost less than expected and the borough received reduced interest rates on loans it took out. The project was estimated to cost $7.5 million but was completed under budget at $7 million.

The borough paid off one of its loans on the project and is $1 million in debt. The borough had a $1.45 million budget for 2018, with a tax rate of 16.3 mills.

Hanson said that even with the decrease, the borough can have its debt paid off within five to 10 years.

“If we stay with this schedule, we’ll be paid off before the first rate reset,” he said.

Council officials polled residents about three options before deciding on a slight tax decrease for 2019. The other options were leaving taxes alone and lowering taxes considerably but extending the debt. More than 222 residents voted, with 46 percent asking for a small tax decrease while borough officials pay down the debt.

“Well, we had a millage reduction last year, one this year and if they can anticipate one in the next five or seven years that at least gives people some degree of confidence moving forward,” Mayor Michael Miscoe said at the meeting.

Hanson said borough officials are unlikely to lower taxes again in the 2020 budget, but they could consider another 2-mill decrease the following year.

“I think we have a solid budget for next year,” he said.

The council plans to finalize the budget at its Dec. 12 meeting.