Presentation on theme: "April 2005 Government of The County of Berks Pennsylvania Understanding Your County Taxes."— Presentation transcript:
April 2005 Government of The County of Berks Pennsylvania Understanding Your County Taxes
County Budget Funding Where does the money come from to fund the County Budget?
County Budget Expenditures Where do my taxes go?
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Improving communities through comprehensive planning for land use, transportation infrastructure, storm water management & solid waste disposal; Assisting with efforts to locate new factories, create jobs, repair bridges in local municipalities & other initiatives COURTS & JUSTICE Judicial administration, corrections & justice related activities including criminal & civil court hearings, maintenance of county prison & youth detention center, criminal investigation units, adult & juvenile probation; Berks County Court of Common Pleas currently has twelve (12) Judges who are elected to the bench County Services What services do I get for my tax dollars?
ELECTIONS Oversee elections process in the County including voter registrations, ensuring equipment operability, accessible polling locations & official reporting of election results ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Preserving agricultural land, conservation practices, recycling & other environmental protection efforts HUMAN SERVICES Provide protective services for children & youth; mental health & mental retardation programs; drug & alcohol prevention programs; services for the aging including operation of Berks Heim, the County nursing home County Services What services do I get for my tax dollars?
PUBLIC SAFETY Emergency Dispatch Service – Mobilizing police, fire & ambulance services to emergency situations within the County Emergency Management Agency – Planning for response & recovery from emergencies such as storms, floods, explosions & other disasters (e.g. hazardous materials spilling into the environment) REAL ESTATE TAX ASSESSMENT To fund all these important programs, counties currently rely on real estate taxes of buildings & land from homes & businesses; Local city, borough or township, along with school district, also rely on real estate tax information County Services What services do I get for my tax dollars?
County Tax Increase What led to the 2005 County Real Estate tax increase? Income from real estate values not keeping pace with rate of inflation State & Federal funding for mandated programs steady decline, shifting tax burden to County level – such as this year’s loss of $2 million in TANF (Temporary Assistance Needy Families) for Juvenile Detention Center Increased criminal activity, especially major crimes, drive up demands for Court services, law enforcement, prison, youth detention, adult & juvenile probation
County Tax Increase What led to the 2005 County Real Estate tax increase? Depletion of ($44 million) fund balance ( ) to avoid a tax increase in prior years $3.3 million (17%) increase in personnel costs including health care insurance in 2005; mandated employee pension plan contribution ($9.45 million); almost 60% increase in fuel costs for County buildings & vehicles Demands for government services continue to rise; Over half of Pennsylvania counties voted to raise real estate taxes this year, many by double digits & some for the second year in a row
County Tax Increase Prevention What is the County doing to prevent another tax increase? Continue further cuts in department budgets; weekly evaluation of spending requests as part of cost containment; weekly review of budgetary progression & key metrics Seek legislation for tax reform enabling counties to provide their employees defined contribution plans (i.e. 401K pension) as alternative to current requirements for defined benefit plans Consideration of workforce reduction program by mid-year to reduce personnel costs; implement self-insured health insurance benefits Continue developing new budget strategies for 2006 along with five-year fiscal plan
County Tax Increase Prevention What is the County doing to prevent another tax increase? Develop plans for a community corrections facility which could alleviate prison operating costs & reduce recidivism Establish a Human Services Task Force to review those departments with goal of lowering costs & delivering better services Promote inter-governmental cooperation in delivering municipal services at lower costs Stimulate economic development in creating jobs to make community more vibrant Consider alternative methods for delivering County services including privatization, contract management & other options
Blueprint for Tax Fairness Tax Fairness Definition: Greater equity for taxpayers Decreased reliance on real estate property tax Taxation based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay Examples of Savings (prepared by PA Dept. of Revenue) 1% Sales Tax – Berks County could reduce Real Estate Tax millage by 2.2 mills (35% cut) 1% Earned Income Tax – Berks County could reduce Real Estate Tax millage by 4.11 mills (60% cut) 1% Personal Income Tax – Berks County could reduce Real Estate Tax millage by 4.4 mills (62% cut) * Under this legislation, County property taxes must be reduced dollar for dollar for each dollar collected under one of these options
Citizen Involvement Support state legislation to provide counties with options for defined contribution pension plans & tax reforms to reduce reliance on property taxes Learn about “Blueprint for Local Tax Fairness” by visiting Keep informed of latest developments by visiting Berks County Government’s web site at Attend County Commissioners meetings or watch BCTV telecasts on Comcast Channel 13, Service Electric Channel 19, or online at (repeated several times throughout week)www.bctv.org/schedule.php Support County Commissioners & Elected Officials in lobbying for tax reforms, evaluating County services & decision-making regarding programs & staff
Volunteer Opportunities Opportunities to volunteer in various community programs: Berks Heim: Spend time caring & sharing with nursing home residents through assorted activities Visit (apply online) or call www.berksheim.com United Way: Enhancing quality of life for all to live & work Visit or call www.uwberks.org Search: Berks County Community Foundation: Support community through charitable gift contributions Visit or call www.bccf.org Berks County Social Services Directory: Discover opportunities through comprehensive online directory