Wrightsville

A view of Wrightsville from the Susquehanna River. (P.J. Reilly/Sunday News)

Reviewing an early version of the 2021 budget on Nov. 16, Wrightsville Borough Council learned the borough is facing a $23,000 deficit.

Council member Frederick C. Smith Jr., chairman of the Finance Committee, is optimistic the borough can find ways to cover the gap.

“It’s actually a little better than I expected,” he said.

The budget presented by Treasurer Keith Brenner shows revenues of $1,064,673 and expenses of $1,087,695.

In an email afterward, Smith said the borough “had a number of unanticipated expenses last year, so I expected the gap between our reserves and our initial 2021 budget projection to be greater than $23,000. This is a small enough number that we can now work with it to find ways to reduce the deficit.”

Wrightsville is facing more than $50,000 in expenses in 2021 that it did not have this year. Brenner said the borough is required to pay a total of $40,000 in matching funds for two grants it expects to receive next year. And the borough’s contract with Hellam Township Police Department for police coverage will increase $11,000 to nearly $410,000.

“We have to absorb that,” Brenner said.

Revenues are down in many municipalities thanks to high unemployment rates. Because fewer people are earning income, there’s less revenue from the earned income tax. Wrightsville is projecting $247,000, or almost 10% less than budgeted this year.

“It will be down (in 2021), but it is coming back,” Brenner said. “Hopefully, it will be better next year than this year.”

The only other large source of revenue is property taxes. Wrightsville’s current rate is 6 mills. If council increases that by 1 mill, it would generate $96,000, which would cover the deficit and provide a $75,000 “cushion,” Brenner said.

In his email, Smith said he does not anticipate a tax increase, “but I won’t rule it out altogether, either.”