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Property taxes likely to rise in new budget

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

FORD CITY — Borough property taxes will likely increase next year since council approved a tentative 2014 budget showing a three-quarter million dollar increase.

Councilmen Gene Banks, Paul Harmon and President Lou Vergari voted 3-1 to approve the first draft of the budget during a special meeting on Monday.

Property taxes for the 2013 budget totaled $18.15 million.

Councilman Jerry Miklos opposed the measure, arguing with the rest of council about costs associated with various line items such as funds for a proposed water facility and the proposed hiring of a part-time borough office employee.

Councilwoman Kim Bish and councilman Rob Mohney were absent.

Vergari said the increase is needed to pay for fire equipment costs and street lighting.

Of that amount, a half-million dollars of revenue would be allocated to help pay for the 2012 borough-owned fire truck. Vergari said the fire department had a buffer with enough money to cover the cost associated with the truck in 2013, saving the borough from raising taxes then.

The remaining quarter-million in revenue would cover the $5,500 shortfall in the borough's streetlight fund.

Streetlight expenses add up to about $54,000 a year, Vergari said.

The total increase is expected to generate about $21,000, which amounts to about $15 more in taxes for the average property owner, Vergari said.

Banks noted that the preliminary budget is the first draft, and a vote on a final version will be held on Dec. 19.

“We want to give our new council members a chance to look at it,” he said.

Incoming council members joining council in January — to replace Vergari, Mohney and Harmon — are Scott Gaiser, Kathy Bartuccio and Joshua Abernathy.

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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