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No tax increase next year for Donora

| Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 12:21 a.m.
PolyOne plant in the MIDA Industrial Park in Donora.  On July,16,2013.
Jim Ference | The Valley Indpendent
PolyOne plant in the MIDA Industrial Park in Donora. On July,16,2013.

Donora council Thursday approved a 2014 budget that does not require a tax increase or service cuts.

However, one councilman and the borough administrator warned that the financial outlook might not be as bright at this time next year.

With the PolyOne plastics plant expected to close by October, next year's budget might require steep cuts or a tax increase because of a hefty loss in anticipated property and occupational tax revenue.

The company has already begun to furlough workers, Councilman Jason Menendez said. And with each lost job, the borough loses a $52 local services tax plus a 0.5 percent wage tax on gross income.

“Next year, we'll definitely feel that pinch,” Menendez said. “This year, we were able to do it. Next year might not be such a rosy picture. ”

Donora has seen all three of its banks close in recent times, something that will affect the borough even further in the coming year.

“Every business that leaves is an erosion of your tax base, and every resident that leaves, it erodes not only your tax base but your refuse collection bills,” said Dennis Fisher, the borough administrator, treasurer and secretary.

“It's all going to hit the fan when we turn the corner going into 2015, and it's going to be quite substantial.”

By a 4-0 vote, council approved the budget. Menendez, Don Pavelko, Denylle Pucel and Marie Trozzo voted yes. Council members Karen Polkabla, Thomas Kostolansky and William Hevia were absent.

The spending plan balances anticipated revenue and expenditures at $2,105,800.

The real estate tax rate will remain at 33 mills. Revenue equal to 1 mill is budgeted for fire service, 1.75 mills for recreation, and 0.25 mills for the public library.

“If I can pat council on the back, we don't contract out many services and do most of our repairs in-house,” Menendez said.

“We do a pretty good job with spending and budgeting out expenses such as salt use, and our crew is fantastic.

“So whereas another municipality might have to bring in a contractor to fix a sewer line or a catch basin, we do it all in-house, and it cuts down on cost considerably.”

Council agreed to repay the 2013 tax anticipation loan to PNC Bank of Pittsburgh. The $132,311.47 payment is due Dec. 31. Council then agreed to obtain a 2014 tax anticipation loan for $130,000 at an annual interest rate of 1.79 percent.

Calling PolyOne a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, Menendez said it's possible to attract another business to the site, which is linked to a rail system.

In the meantime, Menendez said council will do everything in its power to “gussy up” the downtown business district.

“We have two new (council) members coming on, and we're going to give a good, hard look in getting the downtown back up and running again,” he said.

“We're looking at making some repairs downtown and working with organizations like the chamber of commerce to get the buildings looking good and maybe get a new tenant or two coming in. Again, next year's budget is going to be tough. It's going to be tough.”

The borough will mail garbage collection invoices Tuesday to residents and landlords. The discount rate, if paid before March 31, is $172. The face rate from April 1 through June 30 is $192, and a penalty rate of $222 will be enforced after June 30, plus fines and court fees.

Residents should call 724-379-6600 concerning errors in billing or if they do not receive invoices by Jan. 6.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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