Greensburg fashions budget with no increase in property tax
By Bob Stiles
Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
Top administrators at Greensburg City Hall will be getting raises next year under a proposed 2013 budget with no property tax increase, city officials said.
Most employee raises range between 3 percent and 5 percent, Fiscal Director Mary Perez said.
About 140 people work in city-government jobs in full- or part-time positions or as seasonal workers. Only full-timers receive benefits.
Council expects to adopt the $24.43 million budget on Monday.
Officials anticipate property taxes will remain at 25.05 mills, with 17.05 mills earmarked for the $11.29 million general fund and 8 mills to the sinking fund, which is used to pay off long-term debt. A mill raises about $131,000.
Among the proposed salaries:
• Police Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons, $103,439;
• City Administrator Sue Trout, $75,000;
• Fiscal director/treasurer Perez, $63,600;
• Code Director Les Harvey, $60,000;
• Planning Director Barbara Ciampini, $60,000;
• Superintendent of Streets Rick Hoyle, $60,000;
• Golf Course Superintendent Tom Bell, $50,500;
• Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Frank Lehman, $50,500.
The city will pay $42,000 more for increased wages for nonunion employees next year, $60,000 more in salaries for police, who receive a 3 percent raise next year, and $25,000 for members of Teamsters Local 30, who get a 2.5 percent raise, Perez said.
Officials are saving about $140,000 in salary and benefits by not hiring a laborer in the street department and a police officer next year, Perez said.
No cuts in services are proposed, said Councilman Rob DePasquale, accounts and finance director.
Nearly $185,000 has been put aside for overtime for police, according to the proposed budget.
Officials said they are planning no layoffs but a few job changes or reclassifications may occur.
Council will spend about $730,000 from the fire department capital fund for a new aerial truck. The city forwarded $245,000 this year for the vehicle chassis, Perez said.
Officials had unsuccessfully tried to get state grants to offset the truck costs, Trout said.
The 100-foot ladder truck will be housed at Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department's Hose No. 2 on North Pennsylvania Avenue.
The department's 1988 ladder truck won't pass another recertification inspection, Trout said.
DePasquale described collected property and earned income taxes as “generally flat” from year to year. Nonprofits, which do not pay property taxes, own about 34 percent of city property.
An improved stock market would help lower the amount the city will have to contribute to the police pension fund, DePasquale said.
The city will contribute an estimated $550,000 for 2013, Perez said. Police contribute to the fund as does the state.
Council last increased property taxes 3.8 mills in 2009 and 1.25 mills in 2008.
“It seems to get tougher every year,” DePasquale said of preparing the budget. “Even though inflation has been maintained, costs go up.”
Officials switched from Highmark to UPMC for health insurance coverage in 2012. The city's medical coverage contributions will go up about $40,000 in 2013, Perez said.
The proposed budget includes revenue from the sale of 100-108 S. Pennsylvania Ave., said DePasquale, a certified public accountant and professor at St. Vincent College.
Council sold the property to Greensburg attorneys Gregory Moore and Lawrence Becker III last month for $541,003. Officials hope to finalize the sales agreement by the end of this month.
The city owned the property since the 1970s. Mayor Ron Silvis and council members said they wanted to sell because they don't believe city government should own rental property. Having the real estate created added work for staff, they added.
The proposed budget forecasts an $800,000 reserve at the end of 2013. A declining long-term debt over the next few year is another positive, DePasquale said.
Proposed general-fund expenses total $4.36 million for public affairs and safety; $3.69 million for accounts and finance; $1 million for administration, development and public operation, $956,316 for public works, and $1.22 million for parks and recreation.
Officials project $2.1 million will be raised from property taxes, $2.6 million from earned income tax and $400,000 from the business privilege tax.
For the first time, the city will get revenue from a Marcellus shale impact fee, $35,000. Its specific use has not been designated.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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