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Ford City keeps taxes at 2012 rate

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

FORD CITY — It's official. The borough is holding the line on taxes for 2013.

The measure passed by a 4-2 vote during a council meeting on Monday approving the 2013 tax ordinance to remain at the 2012 rate of 16.65 mills.

Councilmen Eugene Banks, Lou Vergari, Paul Harmon and Bob Mohney voted for the rate to stay the same.

Councilman Jerry Miklos and Councilwoman Kim Bish voted against the measure.

Miklos said he opposed the measure because he believed there could be more cut from the budget.

Bish said she voted against the measure because without a tax increase, the budget will not allow for necessary police department expenses.

Council initially agreed on a tax mill increase of 1.5 in December, but Mayor Marc Mantini vetoed the ordinance in early January.

After Monday's vote, Mantini seemed to agree with Bish concerning the police department and the fact that it will have to forego a new patrol car for at least another year.

‘Police take hits'

“The police department has taken a lot of hits,” said Mantini.

“Then, mayor, you shouldn't have vetoed the last budget,” said Bish.

Bish said she pays $198 in annual taxes on her house.

“If we were to raise taxes it would increase by $30,” she said.

She asked if that was too much to help pay for better police and fire protection, and properly maintained streets and buildings.

However, Miklos noted that borough taxes were not the only taxes people must pay.

“We don't spend money properly here, we waste money,” he said.

He questioned why the borough pays $18,000 to keep an accountant on staff and why the fire department needs $70,000 to $80,000 in surplus funds.

Vergari raised concerns over the future of the town because money is being cut from the budget in order to avoid a tax increase.

“I believe we Americans pay our way,” said Vergari.

“It's called quality of life.”

Now, said Vergari, “That 1.5 mills is going to come out of the general fund and liquid fuels money.”

Town won't survive

“I want to have this town survive and it won't survive if you keep cutting and cutting and cutting,” he said.

Banks said his recent vote to hold the line on last year's tax rate was because of what an elderly woman told him — that she would have to move into the subsidized highrise building in town if taxes increased.

In other matters:

• James Garvin Jr., the new borough engineer, told council of a recent meeting he had with personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection agency concerning the water plant and necessary permit applications.

The paperwork must be submitted to DEP as soon as possible, he said.

“You mean we've done all this work and we still do not have a permit to draw water from our own well?” asked Bish.

Garvin said that was correct, and added that he now has three extra permits to submit over what he had initially estimated.

Council voted 6-0 giving approval for the submission of the permits.

• Council announced that there are three seats up for election for the North Ward this election season.

The terms of Lou Vergari, Paul Harmon and Bob Mohney will expire at the end of the year.

“I'd love to see some women run for council,” said Bish.

“It is a job and it is a service to other community members. I encourage the people of the North Ward to move Ford City — to move forward and not stagnate.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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