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Saltsburg endorses plan for canal district, looks to hold tax line

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 1:54 p.m.

Saltsburg Borough Council Monday night passed a tentative budget that will hold taxes at 11.2 mills for 2014, with a mill remaining at an estimated $3,500.

Council expects to have $661,550 in revenues and $627,210.68 in expenses, with a net income on the year of $34,339.32. Tentative revenues include: general account, $308,000; sewage account, $250,900; UDAG account, $50,000; road fund account, $49,050; community center account, $3,600. Projected expenses are: general account, $307,410.68; sewage account, $236,400; UDAG account, $50,000; road fund account, $30,000; community center account, $3,400.

Council President P.J. Hruska said the budget for 2014 “is very cut and dry” and doesn't include any major improvement projects for the borough.

Altman's Feed Mill was again a topic of brief discussion as council agreed to support a community group's proposal to help revitalize the town's Canal district in which the former mill is located.

Council endorsed the Canal Park District Master Development Strategy Proposal, which was brought to the board by Townspeople, Inc., a community grassroots group lead by actor and local community history advocate David Conrad. Conrad, a graduate of The Kiski School, helped establish Townspeople, Inc., which purchased and is currently rehabilitating the W.R. McIlwain Store and Warehouse, known locally as the mule barn.

As part of the proposal, Townspeople, Inc. is now turning its interest to several other buildings in the Canal district, including the mill, the old Martin's Restaurant building on Point Street, and the Saltsburg House, the former hotel that most recently served as a hardware store. That building was purchased last month at auction by Conrad.

Ultimately, Townspeople, Inc. would like to bring in an architect and economic planner to determine how to best utilize those buildings, according to Townspeople, Inc. board member Jack Maguire.

“This is just the first step,” Maguire said of the proposal. He said purchasing the mill isn't the main thrust of the plan, “But it's a piece of it that's very critical to the downtown area.”

A number of issues with the condition of the mill that have arisen over the last few years has resulted in several citations to the building's current owners for violating the borough's building ordinance.

Backing the Canal district proposal is something council members agreed could be a step in a positive direction for the future of the historic structure.

“Dave Conrad and the other people involved in this (proposed) acquisition are extremely positive and they only have the best thoughts and interests in mind for Saltsburg,” said Hruska.

Council hopes to soon have Conrad or another Townspeople, Inc. representative to speak at one of its meetings to talk in more detail about the intent of the proposal and what it means for the future of the historic structure.

In other business, borough council:

• Passed resolutions appointing Berkheimer as tax hearing officer and exclusive LST tax collector for 2014;

• Announced that Light Up Night in the borough will be held 4:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 7, and closed down Point Street from the post office to Washington Street? and Water Street in front of River's Edge;

• Sponsored four Christmas trees at $25 per tree for the borough's Light Up Night. Council will decorate one tree and will give the other three trees to other organizations to decorate;

• Gave Regis and Nancy Georges approval to apply for a liquor license for their restaurant, The Olde Salt;

• Announced that the comfort station will be closed down for the season after the Light Up Night festivities.

Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or gdelfavero@tribweb.com.

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