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Apollo expected to hold taxes steady for 13th straight year

| Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 1:51 a.m.

Apollo's property tax won't increase next year, borough Council President David Heffernan said on Thursday.

Council will meet Nov. 7 to fine tune a preliminary 2014 budget. Heffernan said he couldn't provide any details until then, but he expects the real estate tax to remain at 10.9 mills for the 13th year.

Council will vote Nov. 21 to approve the tentative budget. If approved, it will be available for public review and comment for at least 10 days before council votes in December to finalize the plan.

Included in the budget's payroll will be two additional part-time police officers.

Council on Wednesday hired Anthony Ogline, formerly of the Verona Police Department, and Jason Kerr. The latter worked for Bell Township until July when it dissolved its police department.

Both officers will begin at $12 an hour. Kerr will begin within a week and Ogline, who co-owns a gun store in Verona, is expected to begin in November, according to Mayor Karen Kenzevich.

The borough's two existing officers on Wednesday were given raises. One officer's rate went up $1 an hour to $13, and the officer-in-charge will be paid $13.50 an hour, both retroactive to Sept. 1.

Scheduling of the officers' hours is yet to be determined, Kenzevich said.

Intersection repairs

Apollo will pay an additional $1,100 on its project at the intersection of Route 56 — locally, First Street — and Astronaut Way to improve handicap accessibility.

The borough received about $57,000 from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, Armstrong County, PennDOT and ARLE Capital Partners for the project.

It involved building sidewalk ramps and installing pedestrian crossing signs.

PennDOT approved borough engineer Rich Craft's plans, but after inspecting the completed project said two of the curbs didn't comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The borough was told it would be liable for any incidents.

The $1,100 change order to the project will be used to replace a few feet of curb in front of B Z Mart and Rock Hoppers sports bar. The new curbs will be between 2 and 6 inches higher, Craft said.

Unsafe concrete?

Resident Cheryl Swank, a Democratic challenger who is running for council Nov. 5, asked council Wednesday why five piles of what she said is contaminated concrete remains in the borough.

The concrete was extricated from sidewalks throughout the borough in 2009 when the borough began its $7.45 million sewer separation project. Swank said the borough planned to have the concrete taken away, but decided hauling it away would cost too much.

The piles sit on the riverfront, on land once occupied by a nuclear fuels processing plant, from 11th to North Fifth streets.

Swank claims the concrete is contaminated with radioactive material from the nuclear fuels plants that operated nearby from 1957 to 1986 and presents safety hazards.

Heffernan said the concrete has been tested and approved for use by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Swank is one of five candidates competing Nov. 5 for four, four-year council seats. Also on the ballot are the lone Republican Heffernan, council Vice President Cindee Virostek and council members Dennis Gabrielli and Mark Greenawalt.

Heffernan, Virostek and Gabrielli are running for two seats that carry two-year terms.

Darhl Goldinger is the only councilman whose seat does not expire this year. Amy Poydence and Pat Zelonka are not seeking re-election.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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