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New Kensington thanks donors, volunteers

New Kensington officials praised the efforts of volunteers and donors who participated in several festive events in the last month.

Last Friday marked the first Mayor's Community Holiday Dinner, but Mayor Tom Guzzo said it won't be the last.

An estimated 200 people were served dinner, including a family who recently were the victims of a house fire and senior citizens who likely won't have any other holiday meal this season, said Councilman John Regoli.

Guzzo said multiple businesses in New Kensington and Arnold donated food and supplies.

Many city officials, residents and New Kensington-Arnold students volunteered to cook, serve and clean up the dinner held in New Kensington Volunteer Fire Department's No. 1 fire hall on Fourth Avenue.

The dinner was preceded by a tree lighting at Central City Plaza. The next day, the annual holiday parade occurred downtown.

Recreation commission member Carnetta Scruggs said both the holiday and Veterans Day parades continued to grow in participation and attendance.

"The more community things we do, the better our community spirit will be," Guzzo said.

Councilman Doug Aftanas added the recreation commission already is selling raffle tickets to raise money for summer fireworks.

In other business:

• Council will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday to finalize the 2011 budget.

The preliminary $7.1 million spending plan maintains property taxes at 27.03 mills.

• Weed and Seed program coordinator Sharon Resek announced the police department will buy a new police car after Weed and Seed acquired a state grant.

The grant includes $21,000 for the car and about $6,000 for an in-car laptop computer, Resek said.

She said the city agreed to pay a 10 percent match.

Resek said Weed and Seed also is hoping to acquire more grant money to install laptops in more police cars.

With the city's tight finances, Regoli and Councilman Todd Mentecki said they are looking hard for grant money to supplement city funds.

• Council on Tuesday accepted a proposal from Parkvale Bank for the city's $1.2 million tax anticipation loan.

City Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti opened three sealed bids from Parkvale, First Commonwealth and PNC banks; Parkvale offered the lowest interest rate at 1.75 percent.

Solicitor James Kopelman said the interest would amount to about $21,000. The city usually takes out a loan at the beginning of the year to cover costs until property tax payments begin arriving about midway through the year.

• Council agreed to continue using Citizens Bank as its main depository.

Controller John Zavadak recommended remaining with Citizens because the bank has provided good service for several years and does not charge fees that other banks charge, he said. He also noted the city could incur some fees if the accounts were moved to another bank.

After council approved the continued use of Citizens, Resek asked officials to consider switching to Parkvale in the future because she said it has supported several community projects.

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