Over the last four years — during the Narberth Forward Together incumbents’ terms on Council — Narberth’s general fund budget has gone down, not up. Because the Borough through the incumbent Council has created a culture of professionalism, accountability and transparency, all of this information is now available to all residents, in detail online. This was never the case before.
The general fund covers the things the Borough has direct control over — the police, the public works staff who plow the streets and maintain the parks, administrative expenses and the like. It also includes debt service. Over the last four years, through fiscal prudence, the Borough’s debt load has been greatly reduced, from $410,000 in 2017 to a budgeted $119,000 in 2021 for debt service. This reduced debt load allows us to invest revenues more directly into improved services, such as park maintenance and street sweeping, and the net result is that Borough spending has been reduced.
Narberth has made a single tax increase over four years, from 9.71 mills to 9.865 mills — a 1.5% increase, much lower than the rate of inflation. Compare this to Lower Merion School District, which has gone from 27.3 mills in 2016-2017 to 30.17 mills in 2020-2021, a 10.5% increase in relative terms, and an increase 18.5 times as large as the Borough’s increase in absolute terms. The single modest increase in millage was expressly to create – for the first time in known Borough history – an operating budget surplus. Failure to maintain an operating surplus to weather difficult times is not fiscally responsible and could potentially lower the Borough’s bond rating.
The creation of an operating surplus was wise indeed, as difficult times did come when COVID reached our shores. As a result, the Borough had less revenue than expected. However, due to the surplus which had been budgeted, the Borough was able to provide its usual services, and indeed, was able to take extra steps to support local businesses in partnership with the Narberth Business Association, eliminate penalties for late tax payments, as well as offer forbearance to partners at 201 Sabine, all without increasing taxes or taking on more debt.Click here to read more about Narberth issues.