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Harmar to purchase emergency-alert system

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

Consideration of a new community alert system delayed passage of Harmar's 2014 budget on Thursday.

Property taxes would not increase under the township's proposed $2.53 million spending plan. The tax rate would remain at 3.7 mills.

Supervisors agreed to delay voting on the budget and tax rate until their next meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 30. The delay will give time for officials to work in the cost of the “SwiftReach” alert system.

Emergency Management Coordinator Bruno Moretti said the township can use the system to send messages to residents and businesses by telephone, text message and email.

Messages could concern weather emergencies, fires, closed roads or even changes in garbage collection.

“We can put out any alert we want,” Moretti said, adding that it would not be used flippantly. “It's easy to use.”

Messages could be sent to the entire township, or target a specific area, he said.

Residents would be contacted to sign up for the system; participation is voluntary.

Residents and businesses would not pay directly to receive alerts.

The township would pay a one-time $250 setup fee. The annual cost would be just under $1,500, Moretti said.

The cost could come down in 2015 if the township can work out a deal to include Cheswick and Springdale, which already use the system, Moretti told supervisors.

Supervisors anticipated receiving a contract for the service on Friday. If approved on Dec. 30, it would start after Jan. 1 and be active within two months.

Tax credit approved

Harmar supervisors approved issuing a nearly $55,000 tax credit to U-PARC following a reduction in the complex's assessed property value.

A decision in May from the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment reduced U-PARC's assessed value from $26.8 million to $11.7 million.

Taxes paid on the previous value were slightly more than $97,000; taxes on the lowered value are just over $42,000.

In lieu of a refund of the overpayment, the tax credit will be applied over three years, earning interest at the rate of 1 percent.

U-PARC is a 1-million-square-foot, high-security business campus with office, research and laboratory space. It consists of 53 buildings on more than 85 acres. It is home to more than 120 companies.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.

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