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Irwin council proposes budget that holds line on taxes

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Irwin council plans to maintain a 15-mill tax rate for next year, no change from this year.

Officials agreed Wednesday evening to publicly advertise a $3 million 2013 budget, and they plan to vote on the spending plan on Dec. 12.

In the borough, 1 mill generates about $29,000, said borough manager Mary Benko.

“Council's been really tough about holding the line on expenses,” Benko said.

Council members on Wednesday also heard a presentation about the borough's energy use, a free study presented by Stacy Richards, director of the Energy Resources Center at SEDA-COG, a council of governments.

Richards explained details of the energy study, including data about the borough's energy consumption and energy costs. Richards offered recommendations of how the borough can up its energy efficiency.

She analyzed 24 months of utility bills, including water and electricity bills.

About 70 percent of the borough's energy use is attributed to outdoor lights, like street lights.

Each street light costs about $15 per month, on average, $178 per year. Irwin is home to about 325 lights.

The fire house is the second biggest consumer of energy, then the borough building, she said.

The borough building uses both natural gas and electric.

“They're not bad,” Richards said about the borough building's costs. “But do you want to spend $1,600 in the month of December in heating and electric? You probably can bring those costs down.”

She suggested officials conserve water use at the borough building, too.

“(My) recommendation to you for the borough building because of its size, its use, its age and its bills — that you procure an energy assessment,” Richards said.

An expert assessment could cost at least $2,000, she said, but it will identify and prioritize cost-effective investments.

Though the fire house consumes a fair amount of energy, Richards said, “they've done a very good job of being conscious of their energy usage.”

Richards also suggests that borough institute an energy committee and consider a lighting assessment for the public works garage.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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