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Unity tentatively cuts library funds, leaves tax rate same

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Unity supervisors on Tuesday approved a tentative budget that holds real estate taxes at 3.2 mills but eliminates money for library services — a move that could close the book on the township's library branch and bookmobile stops.

The balanced budget of $5.7 million for 2013 represents a $46,000 drop in expenditures from this year, Chairman Michael O'Barto said.

Of the 3.2 mills in real estate taxes levied by Unity, the revenue from 2.2 mills, equal to $600,000, is earmarked for the general fund.

The township devotes 1 mill, the equivalent of $270,000, to the municipality's fire departments.

The money from the fire department tax is divided equally among Unity's fire departments after the debt service is paid on the township's ladder truck, O'Barto said.

The township gets $2.55 million from its earned-income tax, which covers about half of the revenue in Unity's $5.1 million general fund budget for 2013.

Unity receives $580,000 in state liquid-fuels money to cover road and bridge repairs and $35,000 in fees for street lights.

O'Barto said the township lost $35,000 in revenue from traffic tickets issued by state police to motorists traveling in Unity.

A state law passed this summer required that municipalities with less than 40 hours a week of local police protection forfeit any fees from traffic tickets written by the state police.

The preliminary budget increases expenditures for township roads and bridges to $850,000, up from $740,000 this year.

Unity reduced its expenditures for 2013 by withdrawing the $50,000 it contributed this year to the Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe, which operates a branch in the township municipal building and a bookmobile that makes 19 stops in Unity.

The supervisors said the overwhelming defeat in the Nov. 6 election of a referendum to create a dedicated library tax of .25 mills would be interpreted as residents not wanting to continue any funding of the library, O'Barto said.

Kathyn “Kay” Elder, president of the Adams Memorial Library board, had asked the township in a Nov. 15 letter for an $81,237 contribution to cover the cost of operating the branch and the bookmobile in the township.

Elder said Monday the library board had not decided the fate of library services in Unity because the library was awaiting notification from the supervisors.

The budget will remain on display at the municipal building, with final approval scheduled for Dec. 13.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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