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Philadelphia nudges up property taxes to pay for increasing state retirement cost

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PHILADELPHIA — The town will increase its tax rate slightly to account for rising state retirement costs, according to its 2014 budget set for approval Nov. 7.

Compared with this year, Philadelphia’s rate will rise from 5.82 to 5.89 per $1,000 of assessed value. The total levy, or amount to be raised by property taxes, will increase by 1.9 percent, from $506,175 to $515,630. Total spending will jump by $10,465, or 1 percent, from $1,002,045 to $1,012,510.

The most notable expense in the budget is the increased contributions into the state retirement fund for four town officials and five employees of the Highway Department. The retirement expense is expected to climb by $10,900, or 21 percent, next year, from $51,900 to $62,800.

State retirement costs have increased substantially since 2012, when the town contributed $37,500 for its nine employees. Supervisor Cheryl K. Horton said those costs have forced the town to raise more in property taxes. The state expects retirement costs to drop in the coming years, she said.

“We don’t have the fund balance that would make up for retirement costs, but we have kept the tax rate down as much as possible,” Mrs. Horton said. But “the town is stable financially. We’ve held our nose to the grindstone and are hoping for a better situation next year.”

Sales tax revenue from Jefferson County is expected to climb from this year by $19,680, or 15 percent, from $129,290 to $148,970.

Raises were authorized in the budget for the following nine employees: two town justices, $12,000 to $12,240 (combined salary); court clerk, $6,500 to $6,630; supervisor, $18,360 to $18,730; assessor, $9,600 to $9,800; clerk, $20,400 to $20,820; assistant clerk, $9,140 to $9,330, highway superintendent, $43,860 to $44,740, and engineer, $2,000 to $4,000.

Four Town Council members, who are paid $2,500 a year, will not receive a raise for 2014.

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