We congratulate the Kennett Square Borough Council for diving into the bucket of worms called the annual budget and emerging six weeks later without burdening its constituents with increased taxes.
As tedious as the process has been for the past month-and-a-half, we also appreciate that the give-and-take discussions among the members never got vicious or even antagonistic. There appeared to be some actual soul-searching and listening to each other's ideas.
When the dialogue was all over, the members voted unanimously to cut some expenses, raise a few fees and refrain -- at least for another year -- from adding even a fraction of a mill to real estate taxes.
It must have been tempting.
It was clear from the start that Borough Council President Jeff Darman and Vice President Rich Pesce were eager to hike to millage for the sake of providing greater ambiance in the borough, hiring a park ranger and bringing an assistant borough manager on board.
They were well grounded in their hopes, too. In the past few years Kennett Square residents have become used to being entertained by special events on a regular basis, on a good-looking uptown appearance, on a handsome and welcoming public park and a helping had with spring cleanup, leaf collection and road maintenance. To maintain the momentum in that positive direction, the borough will have to find more funds sooner or later.
On the other hand, borough residents as a whole are not as representative of the wealth of Southern Chester County as their more suburban township neighbors to the east, west and north. We believe those Council members who urged fiscal constraint spoke on behalf of constituents who would have trouble scraping up the additional $100 or so a one-mill increase would incur.
These councilmen rightly reflected that if individual families must cut costs in the face of financial inflation, then so must its municipal government.
Council member Emidio Falini was upbeat amid the talk of making ends meet. Having served on Council for many years, he said it is always tempting to slip a tax increase into the budget in December. But each year he's been at the table, Council refrained, and each year the positive growth yielded the funds that were needed.
Toward the end of negotiations, he came up with another positive suggestion. He said he wanted to see a month-by-month accounting of revenue and expenses so that when the end of the year came, the Council would have an accurate track record by which to gauge the following year's planning.
That sounds good to us.
For now, the no-tax-hike message from Council is good news. We don't expect it to last forever, though. At some point, a whole bunch of pipes under the streets are going to give way and need replacing. The infrastructure and services demanded by some future development on the NVF property will cost money. And sometime in the not-to-distant future, the Kennett Fire Co. (now a volunteer company) will be forced to hire paid firefighters. The cost will probably be significant.
We thank those councilmen who worked so hard to hammer out a livable budget in a spirit of cooperation, public service and concern for their voters.
We also suggest that Kennett Square residents appreciate the tax situation for 2007, but don't count on it to last forever.