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No tax increase in Verona

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 1:27 a.m.

Verona residents won't pay a tax increase next year.

Officials voted 5-2 Thursday to pass a final $1.3 million budget for 2013 that holds taxes steady at 8.0 mills, but not everyone is happy with the final product.

Council members Rhoda Gemellas-Worf and Sandra Drabicki-Bell dissented.

“Basically, because we don't know what we have and don't have,” Drabicki-Bell said. “They call it a budget, I don't believe it is a budget.”

She said she would like to see a detailed month-to-date and year-to-date list of revenues and expenditures.

Drabicki-Bell said that nearly $30,000 for a matching grant for the borough streetscape project was not included in the budget.

Borough Manager Bonnie Conway said that during the morning voting meeting, some council members were upset that the money was not included in the budget, but did not add it in.

Conway said she did not know where the money would come from.

Council member Tony Futules, who voted for the budget, said he did not see any problems with the 2013 final budget or the way it was presented.

“Everything is fine,” he said. “I don't know why they won't vote for it. Five people understood it and voted for it.”

Futules said he was under the impression that the streetscape committee should come up with the $30,000 funds and that it is not a borough project.

The Business District Action Committee, a branch of the county‘s Allegheny Together Initiative, plans to use grant money to replace lighting, plant trees and install planters and benches in the borough‘s business district.

The committee has received a $143,000 county grant, with matching funds of $21,450 from the borough. The project area will include the main block of Allegheny River Boulevard and East Railroad Avenue, and Center Avenue, South Avenue and James Street, which cross the boulevard and East Railroad.

Without matching funds, Drabicki-Bell said she did not know what the streetscape committee would do.

“I guess we're going to find out,” she said.

Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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