Bucks County Approves Budget With Tax Increase

Taxes in Bucks County are going up.

The Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown Borough.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

The Bucks County Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve a 2024 spending plan with a slight tax increase.

Democratic commissioners Bob Harvie and Diane Ellis-Marseglia both voted for the plan, and Republican Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo voted against it.

The county’s 2024 budget is $486.8 million.

The approved budget includes a two-mill tax increase, which will equal about $60 extra for the average homeowner.

The split vote is rare, as all three commissioners usually vote in a bipartisan fashion.

The commissioners – two Democrats and one Republican – had previously avoided tax hikes since the current administration took office in 2020.

Ellis-Marseglia said that while a tax increase is never ideal, the 2024 increase should bring in enough revenue to keep the tax rate steady for several years.

“We tried for a couple years to not deal with [the deficit] during COVID, because we knew people were stretched and they couldn’t afford to have a tax increase,” said Ellis-Marseglia.

County officials said the tax increase will bring in nearly $17 million in new revenue.

The county worked in recent weeks to fill a $16.7 million budget hole and ongoing structural deficit that has existed over the past two administrations.

The county has worked to keep costs down while maintaining services.

The county has sold off assets, turned the money-losing Tile Works over to a nonprofit, merged departments, streamlined some operations, and entered in a conservation easement for Peace Valley Park that will bring in millions in revenue, said Harvie, the commissioners’ chairperson.

Nearly three quarters of the county’s spending is focused on public safety, health, housing, and human services.

The county budget supports roughly 2,300 employees and a number of departments, the courts, and elected row offices. Among the agencies covered are the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Behavioral Health/Developmental Programs, Board of Elections, Children and Youth Social Services Agency, Community Services, Corrections, Emergency Services, General Services, Health Department, Neshaminy Manor, Parks and Recreation, and Veterans Affairs. It also covers the courts and the county’s nine elected row offices, such as the Clerk of Courts, Controller, Coroner, District Attorney, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Sheriff, and Treasurer.

Bucks County Chief Financial Officer Dave Boscola said rising employee costs have impacted the budget.

However, Boscola said, the county’s debt obligations are decreasing.

“We have the lowest debt ratio in the collar counties, and I believe we have done a really good job to keep this (tax increase) under $1.20 per week,” Ellis-Marseglia said.

The county’s spending plan for next year includes increases to the district attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, the county’s share of the SEPTA funding, and the health department.

Harvie, a former Falls Township supervisor, said Wednesday’s approved tax increase is the first one he’s had to vote to greenlight in his 20 years of being an elected official.

The county has been able to undertake several projects and stabilize finances using federal COVID-19 aid, but that funding is coming to an end.

Bucks County COO Margie McKevitt thanked Boscola, department leaders, the row officers, and the courts staff for their work on the budget.

The Bucks County Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve a 2024 spending plan with a slight tax increase.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.

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