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Survey to be sent to Unity property owners

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Unity property owners likely will get a survey in the mail with their real estate tax bills this spring as part of an initiative to lower property taxes for senior citizens, a township official said Monday.

The township wants to include a survey in the real estate tax bill to determine how many of Unity's property owners are senior citizens, Michael O'Barto, chairman of the township supervisors, said on Monday after a board meeting.

“I believe this is really going to happen,” O'Barto said.

Officials last year floated the idea of reducing property taxes for senior citizens and formed an advisory group of about a dozen residents to discuss the issue. O'Barto said he wants to meet with the advisory group in early February to discuss the proposal. The group has yet to decide the criteria for senior citizen tax relief — how old a property owner must be to qualify — and whether income level will be considered, O'Barto said. The group has not decided how tax relief would be enacted — whether it would be in the form of a tax rebate, O'Barto said.

Whatever the advisory group recommends, it must be approved by the board of supervisors, O'Barto said.

In other business, the supervisors delayed for a month approving a garbage-hauling ordinance, pending revisions that would require trash collectors to register with the township and post their rates for the entire year in order to do business in Unity in 2013.

Unity residents are required to have a state-licensed hauler collect their trash, and residents are permitted to select the hauler they want. Four trash haulers have registered with the township to collect trash in the municipality.

Approval of the garbage-hauling ordinance was delayed because some of the haulers objected to posting collection rates and to the stipulation that they maintain their posted rates for the year and refrain from adding a fuel surcharge, O'Barto said.

The supervisors last year considered advertising for bids for a single hauler for the entire municipality, but scrapped that plan because of opposition from haulers and some residents.

By approving revisions to the ordinance in February, the township will be able to enact the provisions by the time the haulers send customers bills for the second quarter, said Gary Falatovich, township solicitor.

The supervisors voted to reject the Latrobe Municipal Authority's state-required plan to resolve sewage overflow problems at its plant along Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe.

The supervisors in November voted for the township Municipal Authority's plan to reduce the amount of sewage flowing into Latrobe's plant during heavy storms by taking about 3,000 customers in Unity and connecting their residences to Unity's sewage system, thereby reducing the load on Latrobe's sewage plant.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will have to decide which of the two sewage treatment plans — Latrobe's or Unity's — is better, Falatovich said.

Latrobe City Council has supported the plan proposed by the Latrobe Municipal Authority to build large tanks to hold the extra water and sewage during periods of heavy flows, then pump it into the treatment plant when water levels drop.

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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