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Monroeville manager: Council not likely to approve tax hike in 2018

Dillon Carr
| Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 3:33 p.m.
Sign outside Monroeville municipal building.
Sign outside Monroeville municipal building.

Monroeville Manager Tim Little's proposed $32.6 million spending plan for 2018 doesn't include a tax increase, but he wishes it did.

When he presented his budget to council, Little suggested a 1-mill tax increase bringing in $2.3 million would go a long way in providing cash for upgrading infrastructure and equipment. Monroeville's property tax rate was last increased from 2.4 mills to 4 mills in 2014.

“It would be used for vehicles, computers, desks — basically the stuff you need to run an organization,” he said. “Everybody wants to be the hero and not raise taxes, but then expenses go up. Sooner or later, you're going to have raise taxes. But council has intimated to me there will be no tax increase.”

Councilman Tom Wilson, re-elected in Ward 7 last week, said the municipality will have to find ways other than a tax hike to address its needs.

“Somewhere along the line, we're going to have make cuts,” he said.

Councilman Ron Harvey was less adamant but said he opposes a tax increase.

“I need to find out what the tax increase revenue would be used for and if there are other ways we can acquire the funds,” Harvey said.

Councilman Paul Caliari, who did not run for re-election in Ward 5 and will be replaced by Mayor Greg Erosenko in January, said he would support the manager's tax increase if it is in the spending plan when approval time came in December.

“We've cut so much, there's literally no more fat to cut. It's going to be tough for everybody if a tax increase is not instituted,” he said.

Councilman Jim Johns agrees, but doesn't see sentiment against the increase going away any time soon.

“I'm part of the minority of council members who thinks there needs to be a tax increase,” he said. “Nobody wants to give up services, and costs keep going up. Right now, I don't have a clue how we're going to fund infrastructure and equipment needs.”

Little said a fund has been established to pay for an updated $1.1 million public safety communications system. The municipality has received $100,000 in grants and has applied for additional grants to cover about half the cost. Depending on how much the municipality receives in grants, the cost to Monroeville for the new system could cost between $210,000 to $500,000, police Chief Doug Cole said during a budget hearing.

The new radio system would replace dated equipment and is expected to provide public safety services with about 95 percent coverage of Monroeville with four transmitter sites, Cole said.

Little's budget is about $1.2 million larger that last year's and includes $50,000 for a full-time dispatcher and $25,000 for a part-time secretary and Right-to-Know officer.

The budget includes $800,000 for road paving.

A vote on the final budget is scheduled Dec. 12, Little said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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