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Tax increase looms in Leetsdale; portion to focus on roads

Focus on roads

In the borough's 10-mill budget, 2 mills will be set aside for road repairs.

Leetsdale Council President Joe McGurk said borough-maintained roads are in need of repairs.

“We just couldn't wait any longer,” McGurk said. “There's no money coming from the state or federal government (to help).”

McGurk said the tax would give the borough roughly $300,000 per year. He said leaders would focus on repairs over a three-year period.

With the $300,000 per year, Leetsdale leaders could repair about 12,000 feet of road, McGurk said.

“It's the one thing residents complain most about,” he said. “And rightfully so.

“Most people see roads like (Beaver Road in) Glen Osborne ... and they say, ‘Why can't we have a road like that?'”

McGurk said leaders are hoping to team up with the Edgeworth Water Authority to repair a portion of Broad Street next year. The authority is planning repairs between about Rapp Street and near the overpass intersection.

— Bobby Cherry

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

As it stands now, Leetsdale property owners will see the borough's millage increase next year.

Council members last week, by a 5-1 vote, approved increasing the borough's tax rate from 8 to 10 mills. Roger Nanni voted no. Osman Awad was not present.

Of the 10 mills, 2 mills will be set aside for road repairs, President Joe McGurk said.

But Nanni said the budget — as approved — has flaws.

“I don't see how we can adopt a budget so far off,” Nanni said before voting against the more than $2 million budget.

“You overestimated our revenue (and) underestimated our expenses and just shot ourselves in the foot. If you adopt this budget, you're going to find yourself in a hell of a mess.”

Nanni said concerns remain with outstanding appeals from the Allegheny County assessment process.

He also said the borough's abatement process could drop revenue more than $150,000.

With a 10-mill tax, property owners whose properties are assessed at $71,550 — the median value, according to the Allegheny County treasurer's office — would pay about $715 in taxes before any abatement figures are calculated.

McGurk said leaders could reopen the budget early next month due to a reorganization of council. Council terms for Nanni and Awad end this month. Residents Thomas Belcastro and Michael Nobers won seats on borough council and will be sworn in early next month.

But McGurk questioned why Nanni waited to raise concerns with the budget until council's meeting to adopt it.

“This has been on the window (at the borough building) since last month. How come you didn't see fit to come see us in the last 30 days to discuss this?” McGurk said to Nanni.

Nanni said a copy of the budget he received via e-mail did not properly open on his computer.

“You sent me something that's totally useless to me,” Nanni said to McGurk.

“As far as I knew, you received (the budget),” McGurk replied.

Under state law, copies of the budget must be made available to the public in advance of approving it. Leetsdale leaders said the budget was available at the borough building and Sewickley Public Library.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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