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No tax increase in Bolivar budget

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:20 p.m.

By eliminating the Bolivar police department and passing on the cost of maintaining its fire hydrants to residents, borough council members on Saturday balanced its proposed 2013 budget with no tax increase.

Council will vote on the preliminary budget Thursday.

It then will be made available for public inspection for 30 days before its final approval at the end of December.

The $57,000 spending plan holds the line at 10 mills. Property taxes have not been increased since 1990.

One mill generates $2,200.

Residents will pay between $1.25 and $1.50 bimonthly for the fire hydrants, a fee that will be added to bills issued by Blairsville-based Highridge Water Authority.

At a public budget workshop held two weeks ago, residents who attended overwhelmingly supported the elimination of the police department, which had a budget of $21,600 last year.

“I'm a big supporter of first responders, and I'm happy we have the police in town, but we just can't afford it,” said Councilman Tom Pickup. “Right now, we need to worry about the money, the bottom line. We have to make sure everything is balanced before we start spending reserved money on anything, including the police.”

Spring cleanup day was cut to save $900, and the public works department's budget was slashed by 30 percent.

Council members previously discussed passing on the cost of powering street lights to residents, but ultimately decided to cover the $7,200 cost next year, according to Councilwoman Sue Bartow.

Bartow said in the coming years, the council might form an authority to bill residents for the street lights.

The borough is looking for donations in computer equipment.

Resident Rick Tudor recently donated a server and equipment to upgrade the borough's network, a donation that Pickup said was invaluable.

“Every day technology is becoming more advanced, and Bolivar Borough is behind the times,” Pickup said.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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