Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Dauphin County introduces budget that holds the line on property taxes

The Dauphin County Administration building in Harrisburg

Dauphin County does not expect to raise its property tax for 2021, despite challenges wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the county commissioners introduced a $191.4 million preliminary budget that would keep the county portion of the property tax rate unchanged for a 16th straight year.

“We realize that many of our residents are struggling because of the economic impact of COVID-19,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste, in a statement. “This board was committed to not raising taxes for next year, though increasing costs will make it tougher to keep holding the line in future budgets.’’

The pandemic raised costs this year for several county functions, especially for holding the recently concluded 2020 election.

According to the county, the election cost about $2 million to run, about $700,000 more than anticipated. The higher cost was due to mailing and printing more ballots than expected, in addition to hiring additional staff to verify and count results.

In Dauphin County, about one-third of voters cast their ballots by mail, an unforeseen expense when the 2020 budget was finalized last year.

The commissioners used $7.5 million in federal CARES Act funds to balance the budget. The county received $25.1 million from the CARES Act, with most of the money—$17.1 million—going to help municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits.

Additionally, the commissioners expect to receive about $1.2 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for countywide coronavirus-related expenses. Furloughs and leaving vacant positions unfilled saved about $5.5 million in 2020, according to the county.

The commissioners are expected to take final action on the budget next month.

For Harrisburg residents, this is the second announcement this week of stable property tax rates for 2021. On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Papenfuse introduced a city budget that does not raise the city portion of the property tax.

To view the Dauphin County budget, visit the website.

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