READING., Pa. – Reading City Council on Monday conducted a budget evidentiary hearing to allow the administration and the public the chance to comment on the proposed 2024 general fund budget.
Earlier this month, the administration unveiled a $109,216,213 spending plan that proposes to hold the line on taxes.
Although no members of the public commented on the proposed budget, Mayor Eddie Moran did present his annual budget address, as required by the city’s charter.
Moran said the budget builds upon work already being done to chart a new course for the building of a better Reading.
Moran said there is healthy revenue for the city because of strong collection rates across all major revenues, including the real estate transfer tax, the earned income tax and the sewer transfer tax.
“This revenue will enable us to implement this ambitious budget plan, to say the least,” Moran said. “Let me also acknowledge that the proposed 2024 budget leaves tax rates unchanged from that of 2023, meaning no tax increase.”
Property owners currently pay 18.12 mills, or $18.12 for each $1,000 of assessed property values.
“The city is in a strong financial position, with nearly $40 million in unassigned fund balance services, far exceeding the policy adopted under Act 47 to maintain at least $22 million or 20% of the general fund held in reserve,” Moran said. “The city has not incurred any additional debt, nor do we anticipate the need for borrowing in the near future.”
Moran added that in the last year, the capital projects office has completed over 25 restoration and rehabilitation projects for facilities, parks, playgrounds and monuments.
“Please make no mistake, we have many more projects in varying stages of development currently and we remain committed to completing them,” he acknowledged.
“My administration is focused on delivering results based on an ambitious agenda that guides us as we chart a new future for Reading,” Moran said.
“It is important that we seek new and innovative ways to address both lingering and new challenges that are presented to us on a daily basis,” Moran said. “Overall, we are in a very good, stable financial position wrapping up 2023 and going into 2024.”
“Although only a year since we came out of ACT 47, it seems that we have learned the necessary lessons and are continuing the path to delivering quality city services in a financially efficient manner,” Moran said.
“Together, we will continue to achieve great things in the city, already producing tangible results for our residents and building this better Reading together,” he concluded.
Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz called the public works and the capital budgets “extraordinary.”
“I’m hoping that the citizens are able to recognize the amount of work that’s being done, how we’re really again taking on issues that have been left go for years, including things that are complicated,” Goodman-Hinnershitz said.
“(Projects involving) Our parks and the playgrounds have just been extraordinary, so I really look forward and celebrate as these projects continue to come to completion,” the councilwoman said. “Hopefully, to have people be using our parks and our playgrounds or our public facilities in a greater way and that, as council moves forward, they can continue to promote public use.”
Council will continue to hold budget workshops over the next two months, with an anticipated final adoption date for the budget on or before Dec. 15.