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After further review, Jefferson Hills Borough Council OKs tax increase

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Jefferson Hills Borough Council approved a 1-mill tax increase and its new $8.9 million budget on Monday.

Any resident who owns a home assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $100 this year. The tax rate is set at 5.66 mills. One mill generates $750,000.

The vote was 5-2. Council members Melissa Barclay and Kathleen Reynolds voted against adopting the budget. Reynolds said she was speaking for some senior citizens who live on fixed incomes.

“They're having a hard time coming up with taxes,” she said.

Council adopted an $8.7 million spending plan in December that set the millage at 4.66 and provided another year in a decade of no tax-rate increases. However, council reopened the budget after further review, and some officials expressed concern about depleting the reserve fund.

Council members explained their reasons for supporting or opposing a tax increase Feb. 5.

“I don't want to, but I see a need to do it,” said council member Tracey Khalil.

Council President Christopher King, Vice President James Weber, Dave Montgomery and Khalil said they helped find about $400,000 to cut from the budget.

With the tax hike, the borough officials estimate taking only $363,000 from the fund balance for the 2014 budget. Officials had estimated they would take about $1 million for 2013 but only needed to take $267,129, Weber said. The fund had about $3 million at the end of December.

Borough officials will be able to continue with projects such as the public-works building, upgrades for Beedle Park and road maintenance.

Barclay, who is in her first term in office, asked the others to reconsider and look to the borough's needs first.

“You have to differentiate your wants and needs,” Barclay said. “The roads, you need. Some of the parks are wants.”

Khalil defended the continued construction of the public works building and the residents' need for park improvements. Even though his children are grown, he said, he sees the need for well-tended recreation areas.

Council member Vickie Ielase agreed.

“People need to be proud of where they live,” she said. “We need the parks.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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