Connellsville to hike taxes .84-mill; first increase in 25 years
Connellsville City Council voted to adopt a proposed $2.96 million budget for 2014 that calls for a 0.84-mill tax increase.
If the tentative spending plan is approved in December, city residents will see their real estate taxes increase from 6.66 mills to 7.5 mills. This would mark the first time in 25 years that the city has raised its property taxes.
Councilman Brad Geyer, director of the city finances, said council members worked diligently to cut spending in next year's budget but felt a tax increase was the only option.
The 2013 budget was $3.69 million, which reflected $736,000 less than the 2014 plan, Geyer said.
“But the bulk of the additional money in the 2013 budget included $675,000 in a tax anticipation note,” Geyer said. “But we actually did decrease next year's budget by about $61,000.”
Before the proposed budget was introduced Wednesday, Geyer said council members reviewed each line item and reduced expenses during budget work sessions.
“Council decided that if the city is going to ask the residents for a tax increase, we would cut as much as we possibly could from the budget,” Geyer said. “And that's exactly what we did. I think we have a strong budget.”
The city's four council members — Geyer, Marilyn Weaver, Tom Karpiak and Greg “Mattie” Ritch — supported the budget.
Mayor Charles Matthews, who abstained from voting, said he was avoiding the appearance of a “conflict of interest” because he is a member of the New Haven Hose Company, the city's volunteer fire department, that was allocated $24,000 in the budget.
A city resident recently contacted the state to report a potential “conflict of interest” involving the city's allocation of Community Development Block Grant money and the mayor's affiliation with New Haven Hose Company.
“I do want to make it clear that if it wasn't questioning my integrity, I would support the budget,” Matthews said.
Matthews said rumors have been circulating around Connellsville that the city is $1 million in debt.
“These rumors just aren't true,” Matthews said. “The city should have about $500,000 left at the end of the year, which is enough money to pay our bills and our employees.”
Ritch claimed political motivations led to the questions of the mayor's integrity.
“If anyone wears the heart of the city on his sleeve, it's you, Mayor,” Ritch said. “The state investigated the allegations and determined that a conflict of interest did not exist. You are a man of honor and integrity. Like you, I will always support the New Haven Hose Company.”
Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3 taken into custody after shots fired at East Park in Connellsville
- Connellsville’s Porter Theater to present ‘Seven Brides’
- Man sentenced for fleeing from Redstone officer
- Fayette County doctor expects to go to prison in prescription scheme
- Fayette warden wants to add 8 full-timers
- Fayette County residents warned muggy weather could cause health problems
- 3 charged in Fayette County shooting
- Hundreds to participate in Nicholson Memorial Bike Run to benefit cancer patients
- Former Fayette County Democratic chairman, county commissioner Lebder dies at 94
- Man charged with threats against Fayette firefighters
- Uniontown homicide suspect says high blood sugar level should negate statements to police