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Monongahela tax hike unlikely

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

Councilman Thomas Caudill called the sale of a vacant garage on Chess Street good news for Monongahela taxpayers.

Council heard the first reading of a proposed 2014 budget. The roughly $2.6 million proposal, which is expected to receive final approval next month, included a deficit of $21,950.

But after council approved the $31,800 sale of the garage to contractor George Stasko, Caudill noted that the 2014 budget will be in the black.

“It looks like we're going to be in business with no tax hike,” said Caudill, the council budget chairman.

The city will have a new street department garage next year.

Council approved use of $74,380 in Community Development Block Grant money to complete construction of the facility. Councilman Ken Kulak said the current garage is inadequate.

Meanwhile, council heard opposition from two residents and Mayor Bob Kepics to a proposal to limit railroad crossing access at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium.

A meeting was held last month involving officials from the city, Norfolk Southern Railroad and the Public Utility Commission to discuss possible safety improvements at the crossing along Railroad street.

One proposal involves expanding the pedestrian crossing at Third Street, behind McDonald's. Safety lights and a crossing arm would be installed and the sidewalk would be widened.

That plan would include closing crossings at Second and Fourth streets.

The idea of closing those two crossings came under fire from dock master Max Stanton, who said the plan would block access to the Monongahela River for the boat club.

Aaron Winbush said closing the crossings would affect some homes along Railroad Street and make it more difficult for large trucks to get into the aquatorium area.

Kepics said that since the aquatorium was built in 1969, there has been just one fatality. He said the proposed plan would landlock one business and block aquatorium access for the fire department to get its rescue boat in the water.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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