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Despite tough 2012, Trafford officials don't expect tax hike

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Council approves Manchester Room amenities

Trafford Council last week approved spending about $37,000 for kitchen equipment and furnishings for the Manchester Room, the banquet room at the new public safety building.

The contracts include $21,797 to Restaurant Equippers of Columbus, Ohio, for kitchen equipment an oven, deep fryer, refrigerator and other kitchen equipment; $8,729 to Sam's Club for tables; and $6,597 to StackChairs4Less.com for stackable banquet chairs.

Councilman Frank Bruno voted against all of the purchases. Councilwoman Rita Windsor voted against the kitchen equipment. With Councilman John Daykon absent, all of the items received majority approval.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Chris Foreman
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
 

Despite borrowing money this fall to keep borough services active and cover payroll expenses, Trafford Council doesn't intend to raise the property tax rate for 2013.

A budget draft that council will review at a meeting on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. proposes that the tax rate remain at 28.5 mills for the second consecutive year. Council plans to examine each line item before passing a preliminary budget that night.

The vote on a final budget is scheduled for Dec. 18.

“It's been a joint effort with everyone,” said Councilwoman Vicki Megon, one of the leaders of the finance committee. “We're very happy to say we're on the right track.”

Earlier this month, Council closed on a $2.75 million general-obligation bond to restructure its debts and replenish the general fund for most of the estimated $600,000 in cost overruns for construction and furnishing of the new public safety building.

Because of the public-safety-building cost overruns, finances became so dire that the borough — which had budgeted for a $1.35 million worth of expenditures this year — had less than $4,400 in its general fund leading up to the Nov. 9 payroll. The bond, which was finalized Nov. 8, was used to reimburse Trafford for $382,563 of overruns from July through September.

Another $150,000 worth of contracts approved in June was not eligible for reimbursement because council already spent the proceeds from its former $2 million construction loan, and a statute of limitations prevented Trafford from including the payments in the bond.

As part of the borrowing, council will repay the sewage fund for $82,600 in loans taken in March, August and October.

Mayor Rey Peduzzi credited Megon, Councilman John Daykon and borough administrator Lisa Mallik for getting the town's finances straightened out. Megon and Daykon took over the finances after Council President Rich Laird removed Councilman Frank Bruno as finance chairman in March.

“I think they have been very successful in putting us on very sound footing, and we can move forward,” Peduzzi said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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