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North Huntingdon officials lower tax rate 1 mill

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

North Huntingdon residents can expect lower taxes in 2013 after commissioners lowered the township's property tax rate by 1 mill.

The reduction is part of a $14 million spending plan, which includes plans to spend down $2.2 million of the township's $7 million reserve fund to pay off a $1.8 million mortgage on its public-works facility and dedicate an additional $400,000 toward the annual road program.

Board President Lee Moffatt said he's proud of the budget, which he described as a win for the township and taxpayers.

“It's the best budget I've seen since I've been on the board, and I like seeing the tax decrease,” Moffatt said.

Manager John 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 about $350,000.

Moffatt said the commissioners need to do more to address future revenue surpluses.

“Over the years, we've just watched this surplus balloon, and now it's just too much,” Moffatt said.

The township accrued a $3.4 million surplus between 2007 and 2011, after it spent less money than it brought in, according to township records.

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.

Although he didn't have an exact number, Moffatt said officials expect to see a large surplus after closing the 2012 budget in January.

“Our surplus should be worth more than a mill of taxes,” Moffatt said. “Cutting our taxes should work against creating a surplus in 2013, but I still think we'll end up with another surplus next year.”

The commissioners expect to draft an ordinance limiting the amount in the township's reserve fund during the first quarter of the year, Moffatt said.

In other news:

• Commissioners unanimously approved Dan Pasquarelli‘s plan to build a 1,575-square-foot restaurant on a triangular lot at the intersection of Three Springs and Clay Pike roads.

Pasquarelli, who is part-owner of Luciano‘s Pizzeria in White Oak, plans to open a takeout business, with a small dining room in 2013.

The plans include the demolition of the current two-story building on the lot, which formerly housed Bubba Darius Restaurant. He expects to begin demolishing the current structure early next year.

• Commissioners appointed both Tom Kerber and Joseph Dytka Sr. to four year terms on the planning commission.

• Commissioners appointed Jacqueline Willis to a five-year term, and Eric Greenawalt to a two-year term on the zoning hearing board.

• Commissioners appointed Bill Loeffler to a five-year term on the recreation board.

• The commissioners appointed Joseph Knouse to a five-year term on the Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority.

• Commissioners appointed Todd Fry to a five-year term on the North Huntingdon Township Municipal Authority.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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