Brentwood board to tackle ambitious agenda with small tax hike
Adjustments to the proposed 2014 Brentwood Borough budget has prompted a reduction in a planned millage increase for residents next year.
Borough officials, who initially planned to raise taxes by 2.5 mills in an effort to help finance capital projects, now anticipate raising taxes by 1.25 mills for 2014, borough Manager George Zboyovsky said.
“Even though we do have a lot of capital improvements that have been going on in the last year, there are still more planned,” he said. “It's about prioritizing.”
The proposed $7 million general fund budget includes a projected millage increase from 7.5 to 8.75 for next year. That would equal roughly a $8.30 per month tax increase — or $100 per year — for the median homeowner, assessed at $80,000, Zboyovsky said. One mill in Brentwood equals about $400,000.
Brentwood Council is expected to vote on the preliminary budget at its Nov. 26 meeting, with the final budget passage set for Dec. 10.
The proposed tax increase still will help to finance a capital improvement plan that will include a $700,000 road program, the start of a storm system management program, police and public works vehicle replacements and architectural services for a municipal building overhaul project in 2014, the manager said.
Reducing the proposed millage increase was important, Zboyovsky said, to “make it easier for the residents to swallow.”
To help reduce costs, officials opted to eliminate a planned upgrade of traffic signals for the Marylea and Brownsville Road and East and West Francis and Brownsville Road intersections from the 2014 budget.
Brentwood officials had applied for a roughly $440,000 Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission regional traffic program matching grant to help fund the project, Zboyovsky said. Yet, the borough would have to spend about $300,000 to finance its portion.
“There were too many ifs,” Zboyovsky said. “The best-case scenario is that we are awarded that grant. Then, council would have to decide where to get that $300,000.”
Another reduction in the proposed budget was in health insurance rate premiums for the borough's 30 employees.
Zboyovsky said he had budgeted a planned 20 percent increase in costs, but found that a renewal of the borough's UPMC plan would trigger a 93.7 percent increase to $426,000 in 2014.
Officials reviewed plans from five companies and are now looking at a high deductible plan that would come with an 8 percent increase in premiums next year, costing the borough $257,000 in 2014, Zboyovsky said.
“That little change there was a (big) savings,” he said.
Zboyovsky also said he reduced the planned amount borough officials were going to spend in 2014 on the start of a storm water management program by about $40,000 — now budgeted at $82,000.
Breaking out the numbers, the if the increase in taxes are approved, the millage would be divided as follows in 2014: .5 mills would go to the Brentwood Public Library; 5.57 would be sent on public safety, 2.52 mills would be spent on capital improvements and .16 mills would be left for the general budget.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.