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Harmar supervisor floats 2-zone police plan

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 12:27 a.m.

Harmar Township will be making a counterproposal to contract out police services to neighboring Cheswick Borough.

Cheswick is considering disbanding its police department in a cost-cutting move and have Harmar officers patrol the one-half square mile borough 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But Harmar Supervisors Chairman Michael Hillery said the township would have to hire five part-time officers to satisfy that request.

Instead, Hillery suggests Harmar police divide the coverage area into two zones.

Zone One would cover the area from the Harmar Township building near the Turnpike interchange north to and including Cheswick. Zone Two would be the remainder of Harmar.

Mutual aid pacts with neighboring municipalities would remain intact.

Cheswick officials have scheduled a meeting for Jan. 29 to evaluate police coverage proposals from Harmar, Springdale Borough and Springdale Township.

Hillery reminded residents that supervisors would have to vote on any contract with Cheswick.

Millage going down, but taxes going up

Most Harmar property owners will see a slight increase in real estate taxes this year, although on the surface, it appears the rate decreases.

As a result of the Allegheny County property reassessment and an expected increase in the total value of township property, supervisors had to reduce the tax rate from 2012's rate of 5 mills to avoid reaping a windfall in tax revenue. Tax revenue cannot increase by more than 5 percent during a reassessment.

Officials believe a rate of 3.598 mills in 2013 would bring in the equivalent of 5 mills of taxes in 2012.

However, Supervisors Michael Hillery, Linda Slomer and Jerry Chalmers agreed to set the rate at 3.7 mills.

Supervisors Bob Exler and Kim Toney were opposed; they wanted the rate to be 3.598 mills, or about the same as last year.

One mill in Harmar brings in about $396,500 of revenue.

Under the new format, supervisors could have established a slightly higher rate because there are a number of assessment appeals from township businesses that have yet to be heard by county tax officials.

Hillery, Slomer and Chalmers determined the earlier proposal of 3.598 mills might not have been adequate due to the nearly $108 million worth of business property under appeal.

In other business

• George and Pam Manning of the Allegheny Valley Fire Department gave a report on the first six months of the merger between the Harmar and Springdale township fire departments.

The merged company answered 200 alarms, and there are 38 members on the active roster, including three live-in volunteers at the department's headquarters.

George Manning said a new fire engine will be priced soon as part of a rotation that provides for one new vehicle every 10 years.

The department will seek to sell a 1983 model soon. The new vehicle is estimated to cost at least $300,000.

• Township engineer Larry Seiler said the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has contracted the J.B. Fay Co. to build a bridge along Rich Hill Road over the turnpike.

Work is set to begin in February and should be completed by the end of the construction season.

At least one lane will be open at all times, with the exception of about five nights when the old span will be demolished.

Residents will be notified when the overnight closures will take place.

The bridge is one of eight between the Allegheny Valley and the Route 8 turnpike interchanges that will have to be replaced.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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