East Deer postures to lower tax rate

| Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 11:30 p.m.

East Deer residents won't receive a tax increase from the township in 2013, but some could still pay more.

The township commissioners on Saturday approved a 2013 budget but did not set the township's tax rate because of an Allegheny County judge's ruling.

Senior Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled this month that all county municipalities have until Jan. 31 to set their 2013 budgets and until 10 days before they mail tax bills to set millage rates. Officials in many county municipalities said they plan to pass their budgets by the usual end-of-the-year deadline but will wait to set millage rates after more assessment appeals are decided.

“Our tax rate is going to go down, we just don't know by how much yet,” commissioners Chairman Tony Taliani said. “Some people may end up paying less, some may end up paying more and some may end up paying the same.”

He said the township is concerned about industries such as the Pittsburgh Glass Works winning big reductions on their assessments. The township's tax rate for 2012 was set at six mills.

“Our greatest fear is that we set a tax rate and then they win an enormous appeal in June or July and we have to refund that money to them,” Taliani said. “Then we won't have enough to run the township.”

The budget was approved by a 4-0 vote with Commissioner Joseph Novosat absent.

It lists $917,000 in expenditures, which is down from $979,000 in 2012. Revenues for 2013 also decreased by about $60,000 to $980,000 from just over $ 1 million in 2012. Taliani said the 2012 revenues were boosted by a $100,000 loan used to match a grant for several public works projects.

Water rates will increase in 2013, Taliani said since Tarentum, which supplies the township, increased its price to the township by about 10 percent.

Taliani said the minimum rate of 1,500 gallons per month rose by $1 to $10 per month and usage rates beyond that also rose by 10 percent.

Water revenues and expenditures are both expected to rise above the 2012 level. Water revenues in 2012 were $668,000 and are expected to be about $753,000 in 2013, due at least in part to the rate increase and to the heavy water use by two concrete companies supplying their material to the Allegheny Ludlum steel mill project.

Expenditures in 2012 were $628,000 and are projected to be $695,000 in 2013, again due to the increase in water rates paid to Tarentum.

As for areas in the general fund budget that increased, administration costs went from $155,000 to $162,000. A large part of that increase was the boost in money allocated for legal services, which went from $3,000 in 2012 to $8,000 in 2013.

A smaller part of that results from wage increases approved by the commissioners for administrative assistant Terri Love and township secretary/manager Tina Lesoon. Lesoon received a 3 percent pay raise, which amounts to about $1,200 per year, while Love's rate will increase from $9.50 per hour to $9.75.

Money earmarked for the tax collection budget rose by $8,000 to $35,000 in the 2013 spending plan. Taliani said that is in anticipation of the pending assessment appeals.The police department budget will rise from $164,000 this year to $170,000 in 2013. Again, part of that is because of wage increases for officer-in-charge John Manchini and part-time police officers. Manchini also received a 3 percent increase and will earn $41,000 in 2013. The part-time officers will receive a 50 cents per hour increase, making the new hourly wage $11.50.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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