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North Huntingdon posts preliminary budget

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

North Huntingdon commissioners on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a 2013 budget that would cut taxes and pay off some debt.

Township officials will now publicly display the $14 million spending plan that would drop property taxes to 11.55 mills. They'll consider the budget for final approval next month.

If given the go-ahead, the budget would also funnel an additional $400,000 to pave roads. It would pay off about $2.7 million remaining on a loan for the township public works department facility. About 13 years remained on the loan for the public works building, township manager John Shepherd said.

Township Commissioner Lee Moffatt, president of the board, called for a 1-mill tax cut in October. He's expressed concern about having “too much money” in the township's $7 million reserve fund.

Shepherd said he's reviewing sample policies that set guidelines for reserve fund dollars.

A real estate tax cut is a rare occurrence. During the past five years in Westmoreland County, 62 tax increases and six decreases were recorded, among 65 municipalities, according to county data. In all but one, cuts amounted to a half-mill or less.

In North Huntingdon, a 1-mill tax cut would drop the real estate tax rate to 11.55 mills, saving the average homeowner $25 to $30 on a home assessed between $25,000 and $30,000. One mill of property tax generates $350,000 in the township.

Contributing to the extra cash: The township has collected more delinquent taxes than expected and spent less than anticipated, plus residential development has bolstered transfer tax and real estate transaction fees.

Commissioners will vote on the budget and tax rate in December, Shepherd said. A budget is due by the end of the year.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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