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Whitehall Council members rotate roles

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:03 p.m.

Keeping with tradition, Whitehall leaders rotated the top positions on borough council in an effort to give each official an opportunity to learn about every aspect of the community.

Council members each year rotate the president and vice president seats, as well as committee chair positions — and name each council person to three committees — in an effort for them to gain a better understanding of how each part of the borough works, said newly appointed borough council President Harold Berkoben.

Council members reorganized on Jan. 6. Berkoben said this is his third or fourth time as Whitehall council president during his tenure. Robert McKown was appointed as vice president.

Incumbents Kathy DePuy, a Democrat, and William Veith and Linda Book, both Republicans, along with newly elected Councilman Ryan Barton, also a Republican, all were sworn-in to four-year terms on borough council on Jan. 6. Mayor James Nowalk, a Democrat, also was sworn in to a four-year term.

Barton, 30, won a four-year seat on council in the November election, ousting 17-year incumbent Glenn Nagy.

“I feel so honored to serve the residents of Whitehall, and I will continue to work to make Whitehall the model community for all of Pittsburgh,” Barton said.

Having a rotation of council's top seats and committees helps to maintain a bipartisan approach to governing the borough, Barton said.

“On council there really is only one party and it's the Whitehall party,” he said.

Barton said he ran on a pledge to keep taxes in Whitehall low and create a more business friendly atmosphere in the borough.

The borough previously had adopted Act 77, which provides a senior discount program that allows residents age 60 or older with an income of $30,000 or less to receive a 30 percent discount on their borough real estate taxes.

Barton said he would like to see the limit increased to $36,000 and the discount raised to 33 percent.

As he knocked on doors during his campaign, Barton said, he talked to many senior citizens who were having to choose between paying their real estate taxes and buying food.

Attracting more small businesses also is important, he said. This would help to increase revenues and attract younger families to the area, Barton 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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