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McKeesport plans budget with no tax hike

Eric Slagle | Daily News
Equipped with sophisticated meters and plastic jugs for gathering samples, members of Mon River and 3 Rivers QUEST teams test water quality on a bi-weekly basis.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 3:51 a.m.
 

As McKeesport prepares to adopt a $17.9 million budget for 2013, Mayor Michael Cherepko has vowed to end the 2012 fiscal year with all city invoices paid up to date.

During a Tuesday budget hearing and caucus session, Cherepko clarified minor changes to amounts and typographical errors that were included in a budget message that was distributed to council in November.

The 2013 spending plan is balanced at $17,987,122.85, with no increase planned for the property tax rate of 4.26 mills on buildings and 16.5 mills on land.

Council President Darryl Segina said he believes council has no opposition to the budget, especially after hearing the mayor's explanation of the revisions. Earned income tax monies were increased on the revenue side, and the police budget was increased on the expenditure side to include accurate time for court appearances.

“We are going to monitor this very clearly,” Cherepko said. “The nice part is, I think, that (city administrator Matt Gergely) and myself have a better understanding of where the money is coming from and where it is going.”

The mayor and administrator were new to city hall in 2012, as this has been the first year of Cherepko's elected four-year term. While Cherepko had served as council president in previous years, it was a different experience, because councilors approve a prepared budget rather than take an active role in its development.

Cherepko said he didn't realize how many bills often go unpaid from year to year, noting the administration still is paying bills including the deductibles of insurance claims from years past.

“We are not going to carry over any bills,” he said. “We are going to pay every bill we have, and that includes bills that we still haven't paid from last year.”

The mayor is counting on council's transfer of $500,000 from the mayor's reserve fund to the general fund to help cover the cost of payments such as the minimum municipal obligation to city pensions before the year's end.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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