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Plum council approves 2014 budget

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Plum Borough's balanced budget that holds the line on taxes in 2014 did not get unanimous support from council members.

Council voted 5-2 last week to approve the spending plan.

The budget projects revenue and expenses at $11.8 million, borough finance director Michael Whitico said. A $25,399 surplus is anticipated.

Councilmen Donald Knopfel and Steve “Skip” Taylor voted against the budget.

Knopfel said that he doesn't agree with some of the spending plan that runs through Dec. 31, 2014. He declined to elaborate.

The budget keeps the millage at 3.78. A mill generates a little more than $1 million. The last borough real estate tax increase was 1 mill in 2008.

Based upon the 3.78 millage, a property owner with a $150,000 home would continue to pays $567 a year in borough taxes.

The owner of a $300,000 home would continue to pay $1,134 in borough taxes.

Councilman Michael Dell, finance committee chairman, projects the general fund surplus at $1.5 million at the end of 2014.

“We made a few minor changes (from the preliminary budget),” Dell said.

“We didn't get everything we asked for, but it is a workable budget for 2014.”

One of the changes to the spending plan that occurred after last month's budget presentation was transferring $70,000 from the general fund to the fire fund, Dell said.

Dell said the money would be used toward the stipends the borough gives to each of the four volunteer fire departments and for insurance and other expenses.

The borough is slated to give the companies a total $155,952 in 2014; $160,631 in 2015 and $165,500 in 2016, according to the current agreement between the borough and the Plum Fire Chiefs' Association.

Dell said officials continue to work on a long-term plan for firetruck replacement.

The borough fund helps the four volunteer fire departments on a rotating basis purchase new trucks.

Dell also said officials increased the budget to cover auditing fees — from $36,740 to $44,240.

The extra $7,500 will pay for the cost for the borough auditor — Maher Duessel – to audit the finances of the community center, the fire departments and the sports organizations.

Another highlight of the spending plan is an allocation of $300,000 earmarked for work on Millers Lane.

The road, with its uneven pavement, is estimated to need more than $1 million in work.

The total set aside for road construction is $650,000.

Dell predicts the 2015 budget will be a challenge to balance.

“Because of increased costs coming down the road, we will have to make some adjustments,” Dell said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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