It was standing room only Monday night as Youngsville Borough Council faced a vote on levying a recreational tax and an accompanying budget.
"We know you're all here about the rec tax," Mayor James Farr said after opening the meeting. "In order to expedite the meeting we're going to ask for a motion on the rec tax and if there's a motion and a second, we'll open the meeting to public comment. If there is no motion or second, the rec tax is off the table."
No member of council made the motion, so the proposed tax was not brought up for an official vote. The lack of a motion meant the proposed tax was defeated, and consequently invalidated the budget that had been calculated using revenue from the tax.
Richard Brewster, who said he has served on the borough's recreation committee for decades, noted in response to opposition to the tax, "We're required to provide recreation opportunities. Whether it's sled riding, basketball courts, hiking trails sometimes we operate at a loss and the only place you can do that (make up the difference) is to take it out of the general fund. Sometimes, if you want us to provide things, you have to pay for them... let's shut it all down, the basketball courts, the sled riding, the pavilions."
When the budget itself was brought up later in the meeting, talk returned to financing operation at the Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool. The recreation tax was largely intended as a means of funding the pool, which has become an annual issue for the borough, costing the general fund more than $20,000 per year.
"I think we need a millage increase," council member Steven Morris said. "I'd start no lower than three (mills). I just think that's being responsible."
"I'm in favor of selling the pool," Council member Erik Leamon said. "I don't think this borough needs to be in constant turmoil, and we are. It's (the pool) all we talk about... I think we need, not just a millage increase, but to sell the pool. As a council member, I think we need to keep this thing from strangling us."
"I don't think we should spend one more cent on the pool unless we're going to make a long-term commitment to it," council member Eric Mineweaser agreed.
Council member Robert Olson noted last year the issue of closing the pool was discussed and drew more than 100 people in opposition to the idea.
"They were ready to lynch us," Olson said, suggesting council schedule a public meeting on the fate of the pool.
"We don't have time between now and the end of the year to do what you're proposing," council member Doug Peterson responded.
In a 4-3 vote, council approved keeping the $20,000 allocation to fund the pool in the budget, despite the elimination of the recreation tax. Mineweaser, Leamon and council member John Barhydt were the dissenting votes.
Leamon then made a motion to draft an ordinance enacting a three-mill property tax increase at a special meeting along with a budget that will include the property-tax increase but no recreation tax.
Council approved the measure with Barhydt and Mineweaser dissenting.
If approved, Youngsville's property tax millage would increase from six to nine mills. The increase would raise approximately $16,000 per mill, or a total of $48,000 per year. Funds from a millage increase can also be used for infrastructure and capital spending projects in the borough.
The recreation tax would have raised $98,000 per year, but would have been earmarked for recreation spending. However, a recreation tax would have freed the $20,000 allocated to fund the pool for other uses.
Property tax rates in the borough have not been raised in more than 15 years, according to council. The borough had a rate of 20 mills when the pool was built.
The borough must now advertise the ordinance and the re-written budget for 15 days. A special council meeting will be held on Friday, Dec. 28. Council has until Dec. 31 to approve a 2013 budget.