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Ford City holds lines on taxes

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

FORD CITY — Borough officials hope the second time will be the charm for the borough's 2013 budget.

Thanks largely to concessions made by the fire and police departments, five of six council members voted during a special meeting on Monday night to approve the advertisement of a second draft of the borough's tax ordinance with millage remaining at last year's rate of 16.65 mills.

Council initially signed off on a 1.5-mill tax increase when the budget was approved in December, but Mayor Marc Mantini vetoed the ordinance in early January and council then came one vote shy of overturning the veto during a meeting earlier this month. A finance committee saddled with the task of cutting $42,000 — or the difference of the tax increase — reportedly found a way to make it work at no additional expense to residents.

The fire department agreed to reassign half of a mill designated for “fire equipment tax” to the general fund for this year only, dropping the department's funding from about $72,000 to about $30,000. And although the police department was slated to purchase a new car this year, that won't happen now.

“I want to thank the protective services — the fire department and police department — for sacrifices they made for taxpayers,” said Mantini.

In addition, parking meter repairs originally approved for payment in 2013 have been removed from the budget and all winter maintenance supplies for this year were reassigned to the Highway Aid Fund. Council president Lou Vergari said due to changes, the only road construction the borough can likely afford in the immediate future will be on alleys and the business district because of funds designated from a county grant.

Council member Jerry Miklos was the lone opponent to advertising the second draft of the budget.

“I still don't think it's good enough,” he said. “I think we can do better.”

Still, Vergari expressed cautious optimism.

“We'll make it,” he said. “It would be nice to have some cushion because you don't know how tight things can get… The piggy bank is getting pretty thin right now. May the whole town stay away from trouble.”

Council will discuss and potentially vote on the amended budget during its next meeting on Feb. 11. The budget is due on Feb. 15.

In other news:

• Council voted to release borough engineer Gregory Scott of Buchart Horn Inc. and appointed James S. Garvin Jr. of Garvin Engineering & Municipal Management to the position.

• Council approved the sale of the old gas station at the bottom of Ford City Hill across from the Falcons Club. The new owner has said the building there will be demolished and a parking lot will be built with the potential for future construction considerations.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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