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Carnegie officials focus on deficit, consider tax hike

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Carnegie Borough Council will advertise an increased 2014 millage and business privilege tax, but neither number is set in stone.

The advertised property tax rate will be 6.83 mills, an increase of .6 mills. The advertised business privilege tax will be $250 for businesses with fewer than 10 employees and $500 for businesses with 10 or more employees — an increase of $50 and $300, respectively.

Pat Catena, council vice president and finance committee chairman, said the increases are needed to fill a shortfall of approximately $60,000 in the 2013 budget, $60,000 in the 2014 budget and to be able to match a recent grant received from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“If not, come December, we might not be paying bills next year,” Catena said. “We might have to ask employees to wait until January to get paid. Or, we start cutting positions.”

He stressed that neither the millage nor the business privilege tax are set in stone and will not be until council has a final vote on the budget. He said the numbers could fall depending on the payments the borough receives in the next several weeks.

Part of the increased budget expenditures for 2014 include the replacement of the borough's 13th police officer, which was vacated when then-sergeant Jeff Kennedy took over the role of chief when Jeff Harbin retired.

“I realize people can only afford so many tax dollars, but I'm not willing to sacrifice public safety,” Catena said.

Council President Rick D'Loss said that, with the average house in Carnegie being assessed at $77,000, the average household would see a tax increase of approximately $46.

He said council made a mistake last year in lowering the rate from 7.2 to 6.23 mills.

“Last year, we reduced too much,” D'Loss said. “There are inflationary increases we have to deal with, and this is how you do that.”

On top of the 2013 and 2014 shortfall council has been anticipating, a recent $199,000 grant from the DCNR calls for the borough to match the amount over three years, a match that may have to be front-loaded.

“We have to come up with the whole amount over three years,” Catena said. “We need to come up with about $160,000 next year.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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