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Burrell supervisors approve Penn Drive light assessment

Jeff Himler
| Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:48 p.m.

Property owners along Burrell Township's Penn Drive will pay an initial street light assessment of $1.44 per front foot under a 2014 tax levy resolution enacted by the township supervisors.

Lacking the financial data to determine the assessment at their last regular meeting, the supervisors met to adopt it and other 2014 tax rates in a special Dec. 23 session. At that follow-up meeting, they also approved a 1-mill reduction in the township's hydrant fund tax and reopened and amended the 2014 township budget to reflect additional revenue of about $6,400 expected from the new Penn Drive assessment.

Before approving the assessment, the supervisors voted to create a street lighting district specific to Penn Drive. It joins six other lighting districts in the township.

Originally part of a private development adjoining the Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort, Penn Drive — and the street lights that line it — were accepted into township ownership some time ago. But the supervisors noted electrical work was completed just recently that allowed electricity for the lights to begin being billed to the township.

As of the Dec. 23 meeting, the supervisors still had not received an initial utility bill to be used in estimating the annual electricity costs associated with the Penn Drive lights. But Supervisor Tony Distefano suggested the costs likely would be equivalent to those in Burrell's LaMantia lighting district, where property owners are assessed 70 cents per front foot of their parcels.

Once compared with forthcoming utility bills, “If it is high, we will adjust it the next year to reflect that,” Distefano said of the Penn Drive assessment. “It can be raised, lowered or adjusted. We'll just have to see what the cost is.”

The 2014 assessment also includes an additional one-time fee of 74 cents per front foot. Distefano calculated that the additional fee, multiplied by the combined Penn Drive property frontage of 4,441 feet, will reimburse the township for a $3,280 bill from Anderson Electric “to separate the electrical system from the golf course's portion to ours.”

Penn Drive is lined with more than a dozen street lights and is fronted by nine homes as well as land owned by the golf resort. Unlike in other Burrell lighting districts, where street lights are mounted on utility poles, the township owns the Penn Drive light standards and will pay Anderson Electric to maintain them.

The Penn Drive assessment is included in a 2014 tax levy resolution approved by Distefano and fellow supervisors John Shields and Larry Henry.

In addition to the LaMantia district, per-foot frontage fees remain unchanged in the following existing lighting districts: Black Lick, Edgemont, South Blairsville and Maple Avenue, 30 cents in each; the Smith Plan, 40 cents. Also, the township assesses a flat fee of $140 for each business impacted by the lights at the routes 119/22 interchange.

Also unchanged for 2014 are real estate tax rates of 7.6 mills for general purposes and 2 mills for fire protection that apply to all taxable properties in the township.

A fire hydrant fund tax, applicable to all properties within 780 feet of a hydrant, has been reduced from 1.1 mills to .1 mill.

Distefano explained the tax rate was reduced due to a surplus that has accumulated in the township hydrant fund. He said the rate will remain “very small until that surplus in the hydrant fund is reduced,” possibly in three or four years.

According to Distefano, the surplus in the fund had been accumulating since the Highridge Water Authority took over public water service in areas of the township that had been served by the Lower Indiana County Municipal Authority.

He explained that LICMA, now defunct, had been charging the township more for hydrants than Highridge does. Highridge had been directly billing water customers for hydrants in a portion of the township that it already served. Now, Distefano noted, Highridge charges all hydrant fees in its Burrell service area to the township, which in turn levies the tax on affected property owners.

Distefano added, “We had some pretty valuable properties come in” under the expanded area subject to the township levy, which gave a further boost to the hydrant fund.

The final 2014 township budget shows projected hydrant fund expenditures of $16,743 compared to revenues of $20,000 and a balance of $66,000 carried over from 2013.

With the addition of $6,400 from the Penn Drive assessment, the street light fund is pegged at $39,145. The fire protection fund is budgeted at $66,344, the highway aid fund at $196,817 and the capital reserve at $43,009.

The 2014 general fund shows revenues of $637,279, a balance of $300,000 from 2013 and planned expenditures totaling $654,513.

The supervisors will hold their annual reorganization meeting at 6 p.m. Monday. The township auditors will meet to reorganize at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The next regular township meeting is slated for Jan. 15.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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