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Armstrong property taxes unlikely to move in 2014

| Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Armstrong County-levied property taxes will hold steady in 2014, according to the commissioners' preliminary budget.

The Armstrong County Commissioners presented a $19.3 million preliminary budget on Thursday, which holds its $17.5 million tax rate in place.

The budget reflects an overall increase of $659,907 from last year's $18.6 million budget, but county officials cut 10 percent of spending in each department to avoid a tax increase, according to financial adviser Carly Cowan.

The cut saves the county approximately $386,000, according to a budget report.

“It's pretty much a cut in materials, supplies, postage and travel,” Cowan said. “We tried everything we could to control salaries and benefits but couldn't make any more cuts.

“Going into 2014, we'll be telling all the departments they need to tighten up, and with a collaborative effort, we can make this work.”

The county absorbed a $169,000 increase in employee wages, a $145,000 increase in health care coverage and an increase of $285,000 in the annual retirement contribution, according to a preliminary budget report.

Dave Battaglia, chairman of the commissioners, said the county staff worked as a team to control costs across the board.

He said officials told each department they were being cut back by 10 percent and to begin planning accordingly.

“We need to get the spending in line, and 10 percent is a good cut,” Battaglia said. “Not raising taxes is key, and you get there by making cuts, so that 10 percent was really key.

“It lets us take care of increases, but also made sure we could keep our taxes where they should be by making spending cuts.”

The commissioners plan to vote on a final budget during their Dec. 19 meeting.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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