The Borough of Chambersburg did not raise taxes between 2007 and 2013; and only once in the last decade. However, your taxes were raised by others such as Franklin County or the Chambersburg Area School District. In 2014, the Borough did raise taxes but only to fund police and fire services. In 2015, the Borough, once again, did not raise taxes. In 2016, Council once again raised taxes, but only to pay for extra police officers.
All real estate taxes prior to 2014 were used exclusively to support the Police Department. No real estate taxes were used for any other purpose. Beginning in 2014, a portion of real estate taxes was also used to support equipment and vehicles for the Emergency Services Department. No portion of real estate taxes will be used for any other purpose other than the Police Department or to support equipment and vehicles for the Emergency Services Department. Not to pay for streets, or parks, or utilities, or any other employees of the Borough; such as the Borough Manager or anything else.
In 2016, the Borough will only collect a small portion of the real estate taxes you pay. Most of your taxes do not go to the Borough. In fact, most of your taxes go to support other government agencies despite the fact that most of your services are supplied by the Borough.
The budget and tax rates for the Chambersburg Area School District are set by the independently elected School Board and not the Borough. The Borough has no say in these issues.
The budget and tax rates for Franklin County & the Library are set by the independently elected County Commissioners and not the Borough. The Borough has no say in these issues.
Further, almost all the employees of the Borough and most of the equipment of the Borough is owned and operated by our utility departments (Electric, Gas, Water, Sewer and Sanitation Departments) and our utility support departments (engineering, motor equipment, and administrative services). Your taxes do not support any utility operations, personnel or equipment. Further, as the budget document reveals, the Borough’s utility rates are very reasonable.
Unless you own property inside the Borough, or have a job inside the Borough, you pay the Borough no taxes. Further, if you just have a job in the Borough you pay only $1 per week to the Borough and nothing else. In fact, almost no township residents contribute any tax money to the Borough. For example, the Sales Tax collected at stores inside the Borough all goes to support others, not the Borough.
The other state mandated taxes are set by law and are not changed year-to-year. They include the Local Services Tax, which is a $1 per week tax on workers inside the Borough; the Earned Income and Wage Tax, which is a set tax on wages earned by those who live inside the Borough; and the Deed Transfer Tax, which is a set tax when property inside the Borough is sold or transferred.
Together, along with fees and fines, these categories make up the only revenues of the Borough. Also, the Electric Department and the Gas Department make a Payment in Lieu of Gross Receipts Taxes (PILOTs) to the General Fund. If these two departments were private corporations, they would pay taxes to the Commonwealth. As such, they are tax exempt. So instead, they pay their taxes to support your General Fund (police, fire, ambulance, highway, and recreation) activities.
Finally, the only other revenue received by the General Fund is grants. In most years, the Borough receives very little grant money. However, in 2016, the Borough was lucky to be have an accumulated surplus of Highway Aid grant money (a grant from the State created by the sale of Liquid Fuels) available for street paving.
The Borough utilities sell a considerable amount of utility services in the new Norland Avenue neighborhood, increasing the size of the Borough’s independent utility accounts. However, these developments generate very little additional taxes to support the Borough. Most of the revenue they create is in the form of Sales Tax and in Pennsylvania, local municipalities receive no Sales Tax share. The State allows us no other type of tax. We prohibited from collecting local sales tax, liquor tax, hotel tax, business tax, amusement tax, or any other tax.
Further, the sale of alcohol generally provides almost zero income to the host municipality. These developments have been very good for our community and create low unemployment, but they do not generate income proportional to the responsibilities they create for police, fire and traffic.
In addition, many types of properties are exempt under State law from paying real estate taxes. Those exempted properties include schools, colleges, churches, charities, and other government agencies. So, while these property owners add to the economic vitality of our community, they do not necessarily contribute any money to support police or fire services. However, some of these agencies (Chambersburg Hospital is a good example) make a voluntary contribution in support of the Borough’s public safety services regardless of their tax exempt status. We encourage all tax exempt property owners to donate to the police and fire services every year.
State law prohibits the levy of taxes as a fee on persons (called per capita taxes) so we cannot invoice directly for police and fire services. Instead, the law allows us only to use property as the sole means to determine how much tax to collect. So, if you rent your property, your landlord will pay the real estate tax and it will be reflected in the rent you pay. There is no other system allowed. The Ambulance Club is not a tax or fee; rather, it is more like a service. You provide us a gift and in exchange, we accept assignment from your health insurance company if you need to use the Borough ambulance service.
Although the police and fire are paid for by Borough non-exempt real estate owners, they do respond to police and fire calls in the townships. State law requires that emergency services respond to all dispatches for health and safety. The Borough’s emergency services will always support our township neighbors regardless of money issues. We also enjoy the support of the various volunteer fire companies from the townships and the Pennsylvania State Police. Mutual aid is a very important principle in public safety.
But, can the Borough afford police officers and fire fighters when the money to pay for them can only come from such a small group of taxpayers? Unfortunately, the statewide system is broken. We can envision nothing but painful tax increases in the future to pay for growing police and fire expenses.
The local townships do not have police departments. They rely on the Pennsylvania State Police. They do not have township employee fire departments. They rely on the generosity of volunteer firefighters. All of the Borough’s local real estate taxes go for these functions. And while we might wish to not have paid police and fire departments, unfortunately we cannot go back.
Therefore, under the authority of state statutes, the Borough levies the following taxes:
- Real Estate Property Tax
Determined by Town Council, and collected by the Borough's elected Tax Collector. Real Estate Property Tax is based on assessment values as established by Franklin County. The current assessed value of real estate in Franklin County is 100% of (1961) Market Value. Town Council annually enacts a Mil Rate to determine the Borough's portion of Real Estate Tax assessed to each parcel within the Borough. One mil is equal to 1/1000 of a dollar, or 0.001% of the assessed value. For example, if your property's assessed value equals $20,000.00, one mil equates to $20.00 in taxes.
The Borough's 2016 Mil Rate is 25.5 Mils (or 0.0255%). The average assessed value of single-family residences in the Borough is $16,823.61. Therefore, the average Borough-assessed property tax on single-family residences in the Borough is $428.78.Average Tax Assessment
 Obviously multi-family, commercial and industrial pay more; non-profit, government, schools pay no police tax to the Borough: townships pay no taxes to the Borough.
Additional taxes are also assessed by Franklin County and the Chambersburg Area School District, which set their own mil rates.
Real Estate Property Tax bills are distributed on or about March 1st of each year. Payment is due at a 2% discount by April 30th, at face value by June 30th, or at a 10% penalty after June 30th of each year. Payment is to be remitted to the Borough's elected Tax Collector - Brenda Hill, 401 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, PA 17201. (717) 263-6565
For more information regarding the Real Estate Property Tax, please contact the Tax Collector directly: Brenda Hill, 401 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, PA 17201. (717) 263-6565
- Earned Income and Net Profits Tax - Determined by Town Council, and collected by the Franklin County Area Tax Bureau. The Borough's current Earned Income & Net Profits Tax Rate is one half of one percent, or 0.5%, assessed against all earned income and net profits of the residents of the Borough. Typically this tax is withheld and submitted by the employer. However, if it is not withheld and submitted on a resident's behalf, the resident is required to remit quarterly payments to the Franklin County Area Tax Bureau office, located at 443 Stanley Avenue, Chambersburg, PA 17201. (717) 263-5141 www.fcatb.org
- Local Services Tax (LST) - Determined by Town Council, and collected by the Franklin County Area Tax Bureau.
The LST is assessed to all individuals working in the Borough, earning over $12,000.00 annually. The purpose of the LST is to assist with funding
for the Borough's emergency services that are available to individuals who spend their work day in the Borough. The LST is withheld and submitted
by the employer, at a uniform rate per pay period, over the course of the calendar year.
For more information regarding the Earned Income & Net Profits Tax and/or Local Services Tax (LST), please contact the Franklin County Area Tax Bureau directly:
443 Stanley Avenue, Chambersburg, PA 17201, (717) 263-5141, www.fcatb.org