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Ford City taxes go up in 2013 budget

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 1:17 a.m.

FORD CITY — The 2013 Ford City borough budget, adopted Thursday by a 3-1 vote of council, increases property taxes by nine percent and water rates by 11 percent.

The $2.6 million spending plan calls for the tax rate to rise by 1.5 mills from 16.65 mills to 18.15 mills. The increase will be about $30 for a property owner.

The general purposes portion of the tax bill climbs 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.

Special taxes remain unchanged at 1 mill for the public library, .15 mills for non-uniform employee pensions and 2.6 mills for fire equipment.

Under the plan, the minimum charge for water service is increased from $27 to $30 a month; and the additional charge for over the minimum goes up by 50 cents for every 1,000 gallons.

Council members Lou Vergari, Kim Bish and Paul Harmon voted for the budget. Gene Banks and Rob Mohney were absent. Vergari said the tax increase was needed for increased street lighting costs, employee pension obligations and police expenses.

But one councilman didn't see it that way.

“It is unnecessary and irresponsible to raise taxes,” said Councilman Jerry Miklos in casting the no vote. He asked each one what cost-cutting measures they proposed.

Bish said she had saved $14,000 by making employees responsible for the co-payment in their health insurance plan.

Harmon asked Miklos the same question — “I asked you, Jerry, I got no answer other than what you did last year. We went over the budget, line item by line item. What did you do? You come to complain, that's all.”

Miklos said he was not made a part of the budget process and was invited to only one budget meeting.

“After the proposed budget we had a meeting 10 days after and there were no questions,” said Vergari. “You didn't say anything.”

“It was a little late to bring up questions and reformulate the budget,” answered Miklos.

Miklos said that in January he had trimmed an opened 2012 budget, eliminating a 2.5-mill tax increase and turning it into a reduction in spending. Council was unable to vote on the amended budget due to not having a quorum at the January meeting, he said.

After the meeting Miklos was asked by the Leader Times for his list of cost-cutting measures and he offered no specifics, instead repeating several times, “Stop spending money.”

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