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White Oak retires loan, balances budget

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 2:06 a.m.

White Oak council retired a loan on Monday and balanced a 2014 budget in the process.

Council's outgoing finance chairman said the act wiped out a 0.75-mill tax increase in a $5,382,729 budget that holds the line at 4.66 mills and anticipates a surplus over $5,114,047 in expected spending.

“The loan was costing us money,” chairman George Dillinger said of a $4.2 million, 10-year Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank loan with 1.65 percent interest.

It made money when certificates of deposit had rates “north of 3 percent,” Dillinger said at his last meeting after 14 years on council. “Now a six-month CD has an interest rate of 0.325 percent.”

The borough will use a $3.2 million CD as well as the remaining $416,000 principal on the loan to pay off $2,859,500 still owed with six years to go.

That will leave $800,000 that can go toward what council president David Pasternak called a tight budget for 2014.

Pasternak said there is no line item for economic development, in response to a $1,500 request from White Oak Local Development Corp. president Wayne Washowich.

His nonprofit is at the forefront of planning for the Lincoln Way widening project set to begin in March.

“There is a tremendous amount of planning that goes into a project of this size,” Washowich told council.

He asked for $1,500 to pay for legal and other professional service fees as the development corporation reapplies for a $1.3 million Allegheny County Department of Economic Development Streetscape grant.

“That is really going to finalize the project,” Washowich said, which would add new signs, benches and lighting to a $10 million PennDOT plan for sidewalks, curbs, crosswalks, a turning lane and a merging of two traffic signals into one.

Pasternak reminded Washowich that council approved a $15,000 match for a $35,000 grant, but Washowich said that was for the original design grant more than a decade ago.

Council authorized White Oak's participation in filing a declaratory judgment action against Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport.

Attorney Jack Cambest is seeking approval from municipal authority communities before filing action against what Solicitor Krisha Mackulin described as a $1 million “unlawful host fee” paid to the city of McKeesport “and subsequent unjustified rate increases.”

The city has argued that the fee is needed for security, street openings, infrastructure repairs and shared equipment and that rate hikes cover a $60 million unfunded state mandate for treatment requirements and sewer separation.

Council approved BlueRoof Technologies' plans for the “Tiger Vet project” providing a “smart house” for a disabled veteran on property BlueRoof owns in the borough.

It gave its blessing to a full design for a community center to be built on the White Oak Athletic Association campus.

It waived a second fee payment John Cardo otherwise would have to pay to resubmit his plan for a pair of 7-by-12-foot rotary billboards along Route 48 at Sunset Road. Engineer Donald Hultberg said Cardo “has been working diligently” toward submitting required paperwork for the borough planning commission to consider on Jan. 2.

Council named Jayme Bergman to the Zoning Hearing Board and reappointed Andrew Macey and Thomas Miller to the recreation board, Wayne Weinstein to the building code appeal board, Paul McCarthy to the planning commission and Patrick Schmidt Sr. to the Civil Service Commission.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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