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Connellsville sets 2014 budget preparation sessions

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By Rachel Basinger
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 10:48 p.m.

Connellsville City Council will begin the 2014 budget preparation process on Oct. 30 at the first of four scheduled budget meetings.

On Wednesday, council set budget meetings for Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, 13 and 18 at 5 p.m. in City Council chambers.

City Treasurer Judy Keller said she doesn't understand why the meetings are scheduled so late.

“Today is the 16th (of October), and you're not going to have a meeting for two more weeks,” she said. “I just wish it would start earlier.”

In her report, Keller said that last year, in the months of October, November and December, the city collected just over $25,000, adding that this could be a ballpark figure for what the city can expect to collect for the remainder of this year.

In the budget for this year, the real estate collection for 2013 is projected to be $959,516.42, and the actual collection so far this year is $893,385.97, which is approximately $66,000 less than projected.

If the city collects the approximate $25,000 in the last three months of this year that it collected in the last three months of 2012, it will be short of its projections by approximately $40,000.

Earlier this week, some council members admitted that this year's budget meetings will be a challenge.

Some said a tax increase for 2014 may be necessary.

Councilwoman Marilyn Weaver, who last year suggested a slight tax increase but couldn't get support from the remainder of council and then voted against the 2013 spending plan, expressed disappointment this week with the lateness of the process. She believes the budget preparation should have begun sooner.

Weaver also said this week that even with a slight tax increase, the city still might have to consider taking out a loan.

Last year, the city took out a tax anticipation loan for $675,000. It will come due at the end of the year.

On Wednesday, council also passed a resolution authorizing the payment of $34,165.18 to the New Haven Hose Volunteer Fire Department from the Auditor General's Office supporting the Volunteer Fire Relief Association.

It also agreed to pay $380,494 into the police and firefighters pension plans in order to satisfy the Minimum Municipal Obligation. This includes $182,564 in General Municipal Pension System State Aid received from the Auditor General's Office. The city will have to take $197,929 from the general fund account to satisfy the remainder.

Councilman Brad Geyer said the MMO is to help continue to make the pension plans as solvent as they can.

In other business, council:

• Accepted a bid of $200 from Delores Tissue for a parcel of property adjacent to her property on Francis Avenue.

• Accepted a bid of $130 from John Molinaro for a parcel of property adjacent to his property on Run Avenue.

Councilman Gregory Ritch said it is council's intent to sell the small parcels of city property in order to put the property back on the tax rolls and save money by not having to maintain them.

• Passed a resolution to accept bids for a parcel of property along South Arch Street. Bids are to be received no later than Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. and to be opened on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at City Hall during the regular council meeting.

• Hired Alexandra Kopf as a part-time building monitor for the police department at a rate of $7.25 an hour.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.

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