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New Kensington proposed budget contains no property tax increase

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 1:02 a.m.

New Kensington residents' property taxes will not increase next year under the preliminary budget approved by council Wednesday night.

The property tax rate for 2013 will remain at 27.03 mills, Mayor Tom Guzzo said.

Guzzo and Councilman Todd Mentecki, who oversees city finances, said there are no significant cost increases in the $7.24 million budget.

Expenses are projected to go up about $100,000 from this year's budget.

Guzzo and Mentecki said an estimated 1.5 percent rise in expenses results from routine increases in insurance rates, salaries and benefits.

Guzzo said there will be no layoffs or other major cuts. In fact, the city recently hired three new public works employees and hopes to fill a police officer vacancy soon and add a parks employee next summer.

Mentecki praised all city departments for managing their budgets: “Everybody's been extremely diligent through difficult economic times.”

“We are getting less money from outside sources and making due with what we have,” Guzzo said.

The city again plans to borrow $1.2 million in the form of a tax-anticipation loan to cover expenses at the beginning of the new year until tax revenue begins to arrive.

In other business

• Council approved the purchase of a new pavilion to replace one destroyed by fire in May 2011.

Councilman Doug Aftanas said the cost of the $32,000 pavilion from Jeffrey Associates of Indiana Township will be paid through a combination of insurance and federal Community Development Block Grant money.

Aftanas is hopeful the pavilion can be installed in the spring.

Meanwhile, the installation of a prefabricated bathroom to replace the one burned in a separate fire in 2010 remains on hold until the deteriorating bridge at the park entrance can be replaced.

The span over Little Pucketa Creek is estimated to be 70 years old and likely can't support the weight of the equipment needed to bring in the bathroom building.

City Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti said city engineer Tony Males is completing the specifications for a new bridge. Once it's done, city officials can estimate the cost and determine when and how the bridge will be replaced.

• The inaugural Winter Festival last weekend went very well and served as a kickoff to the city's holiday events, Guzzo said.

New Kensington's light-up night will be Nov. 30. The tree-lighting ceremony will begin about 5:30 p.m. at Central City Plaza, followed at 6 p.m. by the third annual community dinner that Guzzo sponsors in the No. 1 fire hall on Fourth Avenue.

The next day, the city's holiday parade will begin at 11 a.m. Dec. 1 on Barnes Street. Aftanas said a reception with Santa Claus after the parade will be located at the Westmoreland County Community College campus this year instead of city hall.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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