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Property owners in a quarter of Lancaster County’s 60 municipalities are facing higher real estate taxes in 2020 due to increased costs for things such as public safety, roads and employee benefits.

The 15 municipal rate increases are down from 18 communities that raised taxes in 2019.

Lancaster city budget raises water, sewer, trash fees for average city resident by over $200

The biggest millage hikes are 1 mill in Marietta, half a mill in Mount Joy Township and New Holland, and 0.35 of a mill in Millersville. For each mill of tax, the owner of a property assessed at $150,000 pays $150.

In terms of percentage, the biggest hike this year is 58.5% in Brecknock Township, in the county's northeast corner, but its rate is rising just 0.15 of a mill to 0.4063.

Other substantial percentage increases include 22.3% in Mount Joy Township (to 2.74 mills), 18.7% in West Lampeter Township (to 1.15 mills), 18.2% in New Holland (to 3.25 mills) and 16.9% in Marietta (to 6.9 mills).

Reasons for increases

Officials have cited a variety of reasons for the increases in townships and boroughs around the county.

In Marietta, an $80,000 rise in police contract costs accounted for most of the tax increase, according to secretary/treasurer Sharon Bradnick.

In Brecknock Township, the $90,000 in increased revenue is for road projects, including a bridge on Good Road and an overhaul of Beam Road, said supervisor Chairman Jerry Long.

Long said the township had been drawing on reserves for roadwork, but "that has caught up to us" as the township's evolution from a farming community to a bedroom community made more projects necessary.

In Mount Joy Township, new revenue is targeted for fire protection. West Lampeter officials cited legal expenses and salary costs.

New Holland is facing rising police costs and needs new equipment, including a dump truck. Millersville has been dealing with declining revenue and increasing retirement and health insurance costs.

City, county, school taxes

Lancaster County’s largest municipality, Lancaster city, is keeping its tax rate at 11.7 mills in 2020, but other fees will rise by $200 for the average homeowner.

Lancaster County government — to whom all county property owners pay county taxes — is holding its rate at 2.911 mills for 2020.

New school millages, which make up the biggest portion of real estate taxes for most local property owners, won’t be set until spring. That’s because school districts operate on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year, rather than calendar-year budgets.

For a full list of municipal, school and county tax rates, click here. To see rates for prior years, click here.