Early North Huntingdon budget reflects tax cut
The North Huntingdon board of commissioners took the first step to reducing the township's tax rate when it passed its 2013 preliminary budget last week.
The $14 million budget includes plans to lower the real estate tax rate by one mill and spend about $2.2 million of its $7 million reserve fund next year, according to manager John Shepherd.
The spending plan takes $2.2 million from the reserve fund to pay off the township's $1.8 million mortgage on the public works building and dedicates an additional $400,000 to the 2013 road program, Shepherd said.
“We plan to pay off the public works building before the end of the year,” said Shepherd, noting the township had 13 years remaining on the building's mortgage.
Shepherd said paying off the building will save the township a total of approximately $530,000 in interest over the next 13 years.
Shepherd said the average assessed value of a home in the township is $25,000.
Under the current rate of 12.55 mills, the average taxpayer receives an annual tax bill of $313.75 from the township.
After reducing the tax rate by 1 mill, the average taxpayer would receive an annual tax bill of $288.75, creating a savings of $25.
Each mill generates approximately $350,000.
Commissioners President Lee Moffatt said the budget and reduced millage are good ways to begin addressing the township's surplus.
“It's a great thing to cut taxes, and with our surplus, I think we need to give back to the taxpayers,” Moffatt said.”
The township accrued a $3.4 million surplus between 2007 and 2011, after it spent less money than it brought in.
The largest surplus came in 2007, when the township spent $8.5 million of its $10 million budget, which created a $1.5 million surplus for the general fund reserve.
In 2011, the most recent records available, the township's budget created an $817,563 surplus, which ended up in the general fund reserve.
Moffatt said the commissioners need to continue working to reduce the township's surplus.
The commissioners plan to work on a policy to cap the township's surplus to about 30 percent of its general fund, Moffatt said.
“We want to make sure we don't cut our surplus too low or let it get too high again,” Moffatt said.
Moffatt said he expects the policy discussion to begin during the first quarter of 2013.
The commissioners plan to approve the final 2013 budget during the Dec. 19 voting meeting.
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or firstname.lastname@example.org.