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Armstrong County property taxes static for 2014

| Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 12:16 a.m.

Armstrong County-levied property taxes will hold steady in 2014, a decision made when the commissioners finalized next year's county budget on Thursday.

The commissioners unanimously approved a $19.3 million budget, which holds the county millage rate steady at 17.5 mills.

It reflects an overall increase of $662,862 from last year's $18.6 million budget, which is attributed to increased wages, healthcare costs and retirement contributions, according to financial adviser Carly Cowan.

In the preliminary budget, county officials planned for a 10 percent spending cut in each department. But the cut was reduced to about 7 percent, Cowan said.

“Some of the line-items that were originally cut were contractual items, such as solicitor costs and copiers,” Cowan said. “We had to go back into each of these items and make sure they weren't cut unrealistically.”

The cuts, which helped avoid a tax increase, saved the county approximately $270,000.

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 budget report.

“Times are tough, and we really need to stick to this budget in the coming year if we're going to keep things as financially viable as possible,” Cowan said. “It's just a guideline, but we have to stick to our guns because things aren't going to get any better.”

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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