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Proposed budget includes security upgrade at Whitehall municipal building

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Additional surveillance cameras planned for installation at Whitehall's municipal building are intended to boost safety for staff and residents.

The cameras, part of a recommendation from a consultant who toured borough facilities in October in an effort to improve security, will be connected to the Whitehall Police Department. Officers will have the ability to monitor the feeds, borough Manager James Leventry said.

The cameras and other security upgrades estimated to cost a total $120,000 likely will be implemented early in 2014 at the municipal complex, the manager said. Council members on Dec. 18 agreed to seek bids for the security measures.

Bids likely will be sought in early January, Leventry said.

Borough leaders included $120,000 for improvements in the 2014 budget that also was approved by council in a unanimous vote on Dec. 18.

The $15.2 million 2014 budget includes a $9.3 million general fund and $5.7 million sewer fund, but doesn't have many substantial changes from the 2013 spending plan, officials said.

The 2014 budget includes about $805,000 to be spent on road improvements, and puts $90,000 in reserve for a future vehicle purchase for the Whitehall Fire Company.

The budget also increases borough contributions for the Whitehall Public Library by 3 percent in 2014, to $347,225.

A real estate tax rate likely will be set in January, when officials receive the borough's property reassessment numbers for 2013, Leventry said.

Whitehall leaders in 2012 were conservative when estimating the tax rate for 2013, they said. A countywide reassessment prompted the borough to reduce its tax rate from 5.5 mills in 2012 to 4.32 mills in 2013.

Municipalities in Allegheny County were required to change their property tax rates to become “revenue neutral,” based on final certified reassessed values.

Whitehall's total assessed property value for 2013 was about $810 million, up from roughly $650 million in 2012, officials said. Municipalities were allowed to take a 5 percent “windfall” in 2013, but Whitehall officials opted against this.

Because of that, the borough brought in about $3.2 million in property tax revenues in 2013, down $100,000 from $3.3 million collected previously. Officials are waiting on final 2013 reassessment numbers before setting the 2014 real estate tax rate, Leventry said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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