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Tax decrease possible in North Charleroi

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

North Charleroi residents could be seeing a tax decrease in 2014.

Borough council Monday night voted to post a tentative budget that sets the real estate millage at 48, down 2 mills from the current rate.

Councilman Bob Hodgson said the borough retired a debt service that had been used to purchase equipment.

The rate includes 35 mills for general purposes, 2 mills for debt service, 5.5 mills for street lighting, 3 mills for the fire department, 1.5 mills for recreation and 1 mill for street improvements.

The $491,565 spending plan includes the following expenditures: Administration, $179,998; police, $115,000; streets, $171,112; and fire, $25,455.

The community will have a new mayor in 2014 and the current mayor welcomed him to the job.

Mayor Lee Hall congratulated councilman Steve Hega on winning the election. Hall did not seek re-election. Hall said Hega will be missed on council, but expressed confidence he will do a good job as mayor.

Council voted to advertise for letters of interest for the council seat that will be vacant in 2014. Hall said the new appointee should meet the current standard.

“This is probably the best council we have ever had,” Hall said. “I remember when we had seven on council and we had problems getting four here for a meeting. Now we have five on council and it's rare not all five are here. Council should remember that when making the new council appointment.”

Meanwhile, a local businessman asked for help in delivering toys in time for Christmas.

Dean Helfer Jr., owner of Channel Craft, said neighbors and local fishermen often block access to his plant on Monongahela Avenue.

Helfer said he purchased from the Army Corps of Engineers property along Water Street in 2001 to provide access to the docks at his plant, where about 70 employees manufacture hand- crafted toys, games and puzzles. He said vehicles blocking access to his property were the cause of an accident in which a truck backed into a fence.

Solicitor Chris Cardinale said the borough would have to conduct a study before it could determine whether to erect no parking signs at the corner. But Helfer noted that this is the busiest time of the year with the Christmas shopping season approaching. He said there is sufficient space on the other side of Water Street for 12 vehicles to park and not block his business.

Cardinale promised an expedited study. Council President Joe Villella promised to visit the site this week.

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