Pleasant Hills adopts spending plan with $1M deficit
Pleasant Hills council adopted its 2014 budget with nearly a $1 million shortfall but no tax increase, but that is not expected to stand come January.
Councilman Joseph Esper called Monday night's unanimous adoption of next year's spending plan and tax ordinance a formality because council will reopen the budget at the Jan. 6 reorganization meeting. It's likely the tax rate set Monday, 5.322 mills, will increase because of reassessments.
“We have every intention on doing that,” Esper said. “It will buy us more time to get a more accurate number on the borough's assessed value, and set a more accurate tax rate.”
Revenues are listed at $6,193,910 and expenses at $7,118,679, a deficit of $924,769.
The millage rate set Monday includes .0716 mills for the Pleasant Hills Public Library and .2154 mills for the fire tax.
One mill equals approximately $475,000.
Esper cited Allegheny County figures that show the borough lost millions in assessed value.
The borough's total assessed value was $640,882,300 on Dec. 20, 2012. Council set the 2013 millage rate in May, when the borough's assessed value was $626,852,133, a decrease of $14,030,167.
Esper said the borough lost that money because of appeals by businesses and residents.
On Friday, the borough's assessed value was at $589,491,093, marking the total decrease from last year at $51,391,207.
“Unfortunately, we're going to continue to lose assessed value throughout this year and who knows for how long,” Esper said. “We're going to try and work within our best abilities to contain that, and we can't afford to go backwards.”
Esper said the borough took advantage of a 5 percent windfall allowed by law this year, knowing it would have to give back money because of appeals.
“As it turned out, we gave back all of it and then some,” Esper said.
Esper lauded Mayor Warren Bourgeois for his financial input and budget recommendations.
“Over the last two years, his insight has been very valuable to me in the whole budget process,” Esper said.
Bourgeois thanked Esper for his compliments, noting they had some “tough conversations.”
“We didn't end with a bar fight, but we came pretty close one day,” the mayor said.Bourgeois recommended more transparency and communication among borough officials regarding the budget.
Revenues include $3,199,583 in real estate taxes, $1,530,000 in other taxes, $5,000 in penalties and interest, $27,800 in licenses and permits, $5,000 in street opening permits, $50,000 in fines, $57,333 in state capital, $211,901 in state shared revenue, $207,550 in general government revenue and $124,027 in public safety funds.
Expenses include $76,990 for administration, $15,502 for executive costs, $8,025 for financial administration, $44,350 for tax collection, $50,000 for legal services, $227,929 for clerk/secretary, $10,007 for personnel administration, $86,000 for engineer costs, $135,521 for general government buildings, $2,334,955 for police, $189,916 for fire, $52,000 for emergency medical service, $106,327 for planning and zoning and $50,800 for public works.
Council appointed Sean Greene as deputy police chief and Brian Finnerty as police chief.
Greene was a lieutenant and Finnerty a sergeant. Their new positions are effective Jan. 1.
Finnerty replaces retiring Chief Edward Cunningham, who is calling it a career at the end of the year with 37 years of service.
Cunningham was chief for six years. He was a lieutenant for 13 years and a patrolman for 18 years.
Council approved a new five-year contract for garbage collection with Waste Management. The contract expires in December 2018.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.