Commissioners OK 2016 budget, no tax hike

BudgetWEST CHESTER — The Chester County Commissioners unanimously approved the 2016 budget Thursday, resulting in no tax increase for county residents.

The 2016 budget aligns with the priorities and goals of Chester County’s Strategic Plan which were updated this year. Seven years of development and implementation of the Plan have led Chester County to the achievement of a very high percentage of its goals, based on six original priority areas of Health, Human Services & Environment; Public Safety; Economy; Transportation; Growth; and Financial Management. A seventh priority, Governance and its related goals, has been added to the Strategic Plan.

The budget also reflects the County’s plan to review and begin updating its comprehensive plan, Landscapes2, as well as the VISTA 2025 economic development strategy and urban development, particularly within the City of Coatesville.

The 2016 budget calls for $438,911,934 in operating expenses and $86,950,077 for its capital budget.

Chester County’s tax rate remains one of the lowest in southeast Pennsylvania. For the past seven years the County has streamlined the operating costs of county departments and reduced the number of full time employees. It has also undertaken regular reviews of health benefit costs which, combined with the county employee wellness program, has resulted in a medical cost increase of less than one percent, well below the national average increase in health costs.

The 2016 balanced budget includes a marginal increase in federal and state funding. Chester County receives approximately 42 percent of its operating revenues from federal and state grants, which are budgeted to increase by $2.4 million. The county’s property tax base slightly increased.   Chester County continues to actively manage its debt requirements, with its Aaa/AAA ratings being reaffirmed in March by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

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