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Delmont council president praises efforts

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Delmont residents will continue to pay the same property tax rate in 2014 as in 2013, and council again will bolster its savings.

Council unanimously approved a $1,036,626 budget on Monday that does not include a tax hike. The tax rate will remain at 18 mills.

In the borough of 2,700, an average house is assessed at $25,000, and that amounts to about $450 in property taxes.

About $89,000 in excess income will be kept in the general fund. That is in addition to $200,000 savings remaining from last year's budgeting cycle.

“If we continue to do as well as this council has in the past, we may have more,” council President Jim Bortz said.

Officials will begin to identify needed borough projects in February, he said.

Bortz attributed the rosy financial picture to the hard work of council and borough staff who made budgeting their primary objective.

“It really comes down to the folks that are sitting around this table,” he said. “We truly believe the money belongs to the people of Delmont.”

Officials said they cut costs by finding health insurance savings, joining an energy consortium and completing work in-house, rather than with external contractors. All the while, they were able to afford new equipment, such as police cars and a backhoe, Bortz said.

The 2014 budget's largest line item comprises $266,225 for police services, including wages, uniforms and cruisers.

The spending plan provides for pay raises for part-time police officers.

New officers will receive an hourly rate of $12, a $1 increase. After three years, they will earn $14 per hour.

The second-largest expense of $143,950 accounts for maintenance department-related items, such as wages, tools and uniforms.

Real estate taxes are expected to net $430,000. Earned income taxes will amount to $354,000.

In other business: Council agreed to pay $4,700 to Raimondo Construction to fix leaks in the borough building, where water is seeping in along window frames.

“The longer we wait, the more damage it's going to cause,” Mayor Gill Sanchez said.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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