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Ford City tentative budget seeks 1.5 mills tax increase

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

FORD CITY — Borough council on Monday night introduced a preliminary 2013 budget that raises taxes 1.5 mills, a nine percent increase over its 2012 budget.

Borough residents also would see an increase of 11 percent for water service.

Under the nearly $2.6 million proposed spending plan, Ford City property owners would see their municipal tax bill increase slightly.

The general purposes portion of the tax bill would climb by 1 mill from 11.25 mills to 12.25 mills; and the special tax of 1.65 mills for street lighting increases by .5 mills to 2.15 mills.

The tentative budget increases the overall millage rate from 16.65 mills to 18.15 mills. Unchanged special taxes are 1 mill for the public library, .15 mills for non-uniform employee pensions and 2.6 mills for fire equipment.

One mill of taxes, if all of it is collected, generates about $31,000 for the borough.

The proposed tax increase would amount to about $30 on a home assessed at $20,000.

Council voted 4-0 to advertise the tentative budget. Members Lou Vergari, Gene Banks, Paul Harmon and Rob Mohney voted for it. Councilwoman Kim Bish was absent. Councilman Jerry Miklos arrived 25 minutes late for the meeting and missed the vote.

“The biggest obligation is for the police pension,” said Harmon, the finance committee chairman, of the need to increase the millage.

Vegari told the Leader Times that the borough's obligation for all employee pensions is about $100,000 and that the police pension makes up about two-thirds of that. Other expenses identified in the budget include the purchase of a new police car at $28,515; a mowing tractor not to exceed $3,500 and a 20 percent increase in insurance costs for the borough's property.

“Over the years we've been using the highway funds (as an additional source for street lighting),” said Harmon of increasing the special street lighting tax. Council said it prefers to use the highway money it receives from the state for street repairs only rather than using some for lighting.

Borough officials are counting on expected revenue increases, including adding to the tax base from new businesses, removal of the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax-free status on commercial properties, Marcellus shale gas revenues and the tax increase to help balance their budget.

The preliminary budget is available for public review and is expected to be considered for final adoption by council at its public meeting on Dec. 27.

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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