Tentative Homer City 2013 budget includes one-mill tax hike
Homer City Borough's tentative budget for 2013 calls for a one-mill property tax increase amid uncertainty surrounding worker's compensation insurance rates paid by the borough for the town's volunteer firefighters.
Council members voted to publicly advertise the budget plan follwing an executive session at their regular meeting Tuesday evening.
The tax hike would yield roughly $9,000 in revenue for the borough at an average cost of about $13 per household, according to councilman Matt Black.
“We've really beat our heads off the wall about this,” Black said. “I myself was not for a tax increase at all.” But, “With the way things are going, with workman's comp, we're not sure, so we've got to be prepared for the worst, unfortunately.”
Borough manager Robert Nymick told the council at last month's meeting the worker's compensation insurance rates will likely increase by 50 percent and could potentially double as a result of the Worker's Compensation Act of 2011, which presumes firefighters will face exposure to carcinogens on the job.
The balanced budget for 2013 totals $451,990 in expenditures and revenue, representing an increase of $21,325 over the previous year's budget. It doubles the allotment for firefighters' worker's compensation insurance from $7,000 this year to $14,000 in 2013. The new insurance rates have not yet been determined, although AmeriHealth Casualty Services has informed the borough it is reviewing the worker's compensation policy.
A copy of the budget will be available at the borough building, and Black encouraged citizens to review the document.
Nymick reminded residents that leaf pickup will continue until Thanksgiving, noting that leaves must be bagged and placed near the curb. Leaves will not be collected from alleys.
He also suggested areas near the roadway be cleared of portable basketball hoops, branches and other obstacles as the snow plowing season is quickly approaching.
The borough has completed installation of several signs throughout town, Nymick said. “Blind pedestrian” signs have been placed on Juniper Street and “Smoke-Free” signs are up in public recreational sites such as Memorial Field, Floodway Park and the swimming pool.
The borough has also placed roughly 25 tons of stone on Upper Wilson Alley in response to a request made to the council at a previous meeting, according to Nymick.
Five East Elm Street residents were temporarily displaced by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, Nymick reported. The council received information from Homer-Center High School regarding its community-based vocational program for special education students.
The program allows participating students to attend school for a portion of the day or week and report to a part-time job at grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, service stations and other types of local businesses.
“The students are supervised on the job and evaluated every nine weeks by their employers and the program coordinator,” the correspondence read. “They receive wages from the employer and are covered by workers' compensation. Transportation to and from the job is provided by the school district.”
Homer City Police Chief Louis Sacco told the council the department has received complaints of criminal mischief near the Homer-Center Historical Society caboose museum and adjacent Floodway Park.
“People, if they're out walking or driving by, if they see suspicious activity they're asked to call,” Sacco said. “We are keeping an extra eye out over at that location.”
He also reported the department has received grant funding that will allow it to conduct new waves of PA Buckle Up and Aggressive Driving enforcement beginning in November and continuing through December.
The council voted to purchase an advertisement in the booklet the police department distributes during its “Officer Phil” educational seminars at elementary schools. The advertisement costs $199 and the borough has purchased ads in the booklet in previous years.
“Basically it's education through entertainment,” Sacco said of the program, which teaches safety to kindergarten through fourth-grade students and offers drug awareness lessons to children in fifth and sixth grades.
The council also reminded residents to attend the borough's Town Hall meeting, scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Homer City Fire Department.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.