Saturday – 1/13/2018 | a look at the Columbia Borough 2018 budget

Police Department facebook page posts include notices of (1) a burglary at The Medicine Shoppe (which was published days ago in LNP – Always Lancaster) and an IRS scam.

A question about the RCAP grant funding was posed at a recent council meeting. Here’s the State’s Website explaining the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). Readers can download a listing of the RACP projects awarded through December 22, 2017.


The borough’s 2018 DRAFT Budget schedules are posted at the Website. Some items of interest:

  • The Trolley is slated to produce $9,000 in revenues in 2018. And trolley personnel and expenses are shown as $13,400. Also under in the Community Investment section of the budget, there’s an additional $5,000 allocated.
  • The compensation for persons serving on borough council and the mayor remains unchanged at $100 a month – a pittance given the time invested by these elected public servants. In fact, according to the Reporter’s Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government, Columbia’s elected public servants are underpaid: “Borough council members can be paid $1,875 to $5,000 per year, and the mayor can be paid $2,500 to $7,500 per year, depending on the borough’s population. Their actual salaries are established by ordinance. Not all boroughs pay their council members and mayor.” NOTE: This, too, is from the above source: “Mayor – has little power in a borough, except as head of the police department, if there is one. Votes only to break ties.”
  • Police Department expenses exceed $3.2 million, INCLUDE nearly a five percent compensation increase for the police chief; an new position, an administrative assistant and nearly 20 percent more for Police Health Insurance.
  • The Director of Public Works line item shows 2018 salary compensation of $82,387 – that’s an increase of more than $37,000.
  • The Market House is budgeted for $27,000 in expenses.
  • The Land Bank: $100,000
  • In the Community Investment section, contributions to The Columbia Economic Development Corporation have been reduced to ZERO. Contributions to Parks and Recreation have significantly increased, as have contributions to other organizations. Movies under the stars gets $10,000.
  • Consulting Services are projected to be significantly reduced in 2018: from more than $66,000 in 2017 to $15,000.
  • Budget line item 454.379 shows a a more than doubling expense ($114,842) for the Trail Services Building – Susquehanna Gateway.
  • A 30 percent jump in employee benefits dominated by huge increases in health insurance costs.
  • Contributions “in lieu of taxes” are projected at a paltry $12,000.

About a year ago, Columbia news, views & reviews wrote this:

How many of Columbia’s non-profits make “in-lieu-of” payments to the Borough for public services?

The Borough responded to our “right to know” request and provided a list of only four of the up to 100 or so registered non-profits.

These four contributed a total of $12,150 in 2015.

in lieu of

Each year the borough office sends this invitation to the registered non-profits to encourage them to consider an “in lieu of taxes” contribution.

fair share letterClick on the above illustration to view in a larger format.

Many non-profits across the county contend they provide significant services that benefit persons in the communities they exist. Many citizen tax payers, however, are burdened with increasing tax payments for services.



  1. The consultant numbers being reduced is confusing to me given the decision to put out an RFP for an engineering consultant in 2018. My understanding is that this is being done because the funding for the streetscape project did not come through. So how is $15,000 an accurate figure?

  2. I have to question the Trolley numbers too. Will they jump if the plan goes through to have Susquehanna Heritage operate Columbia’s Trolley or are these numbers reflective of that? Seems really low.

  3. Movies under the stars is a great idea but not attended well enough to warrent $10,000. The last movie at the Locust St Park had less than a dozen people there. If it is going to be a success it must be better organized and properly promoted.

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