Taxes are going up in South

South Williamsport Borough council unanimously passed its 2017 budget, including a 0.5 millage tax increase and a dedication of $2 million for road work.

“This is the first tax increase for quite a few years,” said council Chairman J. Bernard Schelb. He added that the increase is due to a variety of road work that must be done throughout the borough.

The last tax increase was in 2011, according to Michael Miller, borough manager. The increase will raise last year’s 3.98 millage to 4.48 for 2017, resulting in roughly a $50 increase for the average homeowner.

Miller said the new budget has “nothing extravagant in it” and that the borough is in a strong financial position.

In addition to the road work, the borough will be purchasing a new backhoe and a new police car in 2017, according to Miller. He does not anticipate any new staff appointments.

The passage of the budget comes shortly after the borough refinanced a sewer loan, saving them roughly $842,000, which will cut off about five years of the borough’s sewer debt, according to Miller.

Despite these savings, he said the borough only will be able to use the money for sewer purposes, still making the tax increase necessary.

“You can’t use sewer money to pay for roads,” Miller said.

In other business, the council appointed two new member to the Zoning Board. The council voted 7-1 to appoint Nancy Eischeid to a four-year term. Councilman Carl Nolan voted no. They also voted 5-3 to appoint Robert Herzenberg to a five-year term. Councilmen David Geise, Fred March and Nolan voted no.

The board members whose terms expired were Larry Baker, current zoning board chairman, and David Huyck. Both men were at the council meeting and asked to be re-elected but were not nominated by any members of the council.

The council also renewed its billing agreement with the Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority for an additional three years at a fixed rate of $47,400 per year.

The authority has managed the borough’s billings and collections for the past six years, according to Christine Weigle, executive director for the authority.

Borough Police Chief Robert Hetner announced that the borough has seen over 20 thefts from unlocked cars over the past month, with three on Sunday night.

He cautioned residents to lock their cars at night.

Councilmen present at the meeting were John Decker, Cory Lehman, Henry Frey Jr., Joseph LaRue Jr., Schelb, Nolan, Geise and March. Councilman Robert Cronin was absent.

The next borough meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12.