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Fox Chapel taxes to hold steady in 2018

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, 2:36 p.m.
Fox Chapel worker Robert Kunkle cuts pipe while crews work on fixing a water main break on Friday, Jan. 6, along Dorseyville Road.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune-Review
Fox Chapel worker Robert Kunkle cuts pipe while crews work on fixing a water main break on Friday, Jan. 6, along Dorseyville Road.

Fox Chapel residents can expect the same property tax rate for another year following council's approval last week of a tentative $8.2 million budget.

Council is expected to take a final vote at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 18. If the spending plan is approved, property taxes will remain at 2.5 mills in 2018.

The owner of a home assessed at $200,000 again would pay $500 in property taxes.

The borough expects to bring in 80 percent of its operating expenses through $2.9 million in real estate tax payments and $3.3 million in earned income tax revenue, Finance Director Joy Hardt said.

The borough looks to finish well in 2017 — more than $914,000 under budget.

“This is due to revenue exceeding budget by $452,200 and expenses falling short of budget by $462,000,” Hardt said.

Earned income tax is projected to exceed budget projections by $401,300, and is up 14.6 percent over 2016.

Much of the savings in 2017 expenses is attributed to public works, and the mild winter. Salt expenses are expected to be $73,400 under budget, Hardt said.

The road rebuilding program also should fall below budget by $140,500, thanks to a favorable paving bid.

“We would have liked to add additional roads but the contractor's busy schedule did not permit it,” Hardt said.

Repairs to Rockwood Bridge that were slated for 2017 were postponed, saving another $100,000.

Nearly half of the borough's general fund budget is allocated to public works, which operates with a staff of nine. A few part-timers and seasonal workers supplement the staff for summer grass maintenance, fall leaf collection and weekend garbage bin supervision.

Highlights of the 2018 budget include a new computer server, three Ford Interceptors for the police department including a K-9 car, a public works pickup truck, remote-operated leaf vacuum machine, plate compactor and two aluminum leaf boxes.

Council also approved the Cooper-Siegel Community Library Board's request to increase by $10,000 its annual donation — only if donations from other member municipalities match the total amount.

The borough will be in its final year of a three-year contract with Vogel Disposal for refuse collection, which is paid through borough tax dollars. Costs translate to 28 percent of a resident's real estate tax bill, Hardt said.

“Fox Chapel is the only community in the North Hills area that provides its residents with garage door pickup and weekend rubbish bins for household items,” Hardt said.

Borough sewer rates will remain the same in 2018, but residents will see Allegheny County Sanitary Authority rate increases of 7.5 percent in 2018 and 7 percent in the following three years.

To view a copy of the budget, visit the municipal building at 401 Fox Chapel Road.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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