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Carnegie/Bridgeville

South Fayette Township residents could see property tax hike

| Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, 3:54 p.m.
South Fayette Recreation Director Paula Simmons and other township employees pick up trash along Millers Run Road in South Fayette during an Earth Day cleanup Thursday, April 23, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
South Fayette Recreation Director Paula Simmons and other township employees pick up trash along Millers Run Road in South Fayette during an Earth Day cleanup Thursday, April 23, 2015.

South Fayette Township residents could see a small increase in their property tax next year. On Wednesday, Township manager Ryan Eggleston presented a proposed 2018 budget to township commissioners, which includes a .25-mill increase to 4.73 mills.

Eggleston said most of the increase will go to the police department, where the plan is to transfer one officer to a newly-created detective position, and then hire two more full-time officers.

Eggleston said the new officers will put the township at 50 employees, which increases obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

Other additions to the budget include two proposed part-time seasonal workers and an increase in health insurance premiums.

“Our health insurance, as a lot of places this year, has gone up 13 percent,” Eggleston said.

While other communities have reduced or eliminated contributions to their library as a way to cut costs, South Fayette leaders are scheduled to increase their contribution 10 percent, to $138,000 to South Fayette Township Library.

Board of Commissioners President Joe Horowitz noted township revenue has only increased 10 percent since 2013. He said additions to the budget is a result of smarter spending.

“We're not doing things because we have more money,” Horowitz said.

Under the proposed budget, a South Fayette property owner would see a $25 increase for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the budget at their next voting meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13.

Appointed

One commissioner may be performing one of her first official acts during that vote next month.

Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Rebecca Sray to fill the unexpired term of Jessica Cardillo, who resigned from the board last month.

Cardillo's term was set to expire at the end of this year, and Sray was elected to the seat in this month's general election. Her tenure initially was set to begin in January.

Sray was not able attend the commissioners meeting, so she is scheduled to be sworn in Dec. 6.

Emergency expenditures

While not officially included in the 2018 budget, commissioners approved a resolution regarding a dedicated fund balance for unexpected or emergency expenditures.

The proposal calls for 10- to 15-percent of the budget to be held in reserve for economic uncertainty, and another 10- to 15-percent for unforeseen events such as a natural disaster.

“Those would be used, obviously, for not normal or reoccurring expenses,” Eggleston said. “But they may be allocated for capital improvements.”

Eggleston said the proposed 2018 budget is “fairly close” to meeting the 10-percent minimum. He said achieving the desired fund balance would be a multi-year process.

Eric Eisert is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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