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North Hills

Spry economy, development helps Ross keep tax rate unchanged for 4th consecutive year

Tony LaRussa
| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, 3:51 p.m.

Ross Township commissioners have approved a 2019 budget that increases spending by 7.5 percent while keeping the property-tax rate and all other levies unchanged.

The board voted 8-0 on Dec. 3 to approve the more than $22.9 million spending plan, which is an increase of $1.9 million over this year. Commissioner Grace Stanko was absent from the meeting.

The 2.7 mill real estate tax rate set for 2019 will be the same for the fourth consecutive year, which means property owners will continue to pay $2.70 for every $1,000 of assessed value on their properties.

Ross will have the fourth lowest property tax rate in Allegheny behind Pine, McCandless and Franklin Park.

Next year’s budget anticipates a modest increase in revenue from the property tax, which is expected to generate abut $6.95 million, or 2.51 percent more than this year.

Property taxes will account for 31 percent of the township’s revenue — the single largest generator of income — followed by the earned-income tax, which is expected to take in $4.85 million or 21 percent of the budget.

About 17 percent of the budget will be funded by other taxes levied by the township including mercantile, business privilege and the sales tax.

The remaining 31 percent of the budget will come from revenue generators such as licenses, permits and fines.

The township is anticipating starting 2019 with more than $3 million that will be carried over from this year.

 “For fiscal year 2019, the board of commissioners once again was able to hold the line on all taxes and fees while providing our residents improved public safety, public works and parks and recreational services,” said Steve Korbel, president of the board of commissioners.

“Due to a healthy economy, new development and the redevelopment of properties in the township, our revenues have grown by nearly $4 million over the last several years,” Korbel said. “Those additional revenues will allow the township to aggressively invest in our infrastructures through approximately $2 million in road paving and the implementation of an aggressive township-wide athletic field improvement program.”

The two largest line item in the township’s capital budget for next year are $2 million to pave roads and $890,000 for bridge repair and replacement.

There also is $360,000 budgeted to improve the municipality’s baseball fields next year, including laser grading each of the fields and replacing the turf at Herb Field to solve drainage problems.

Another $245,000 will be spent on replacing aging play equipment in the parks. Money also has been budgeted to make major improvements to three major parks: Denny, $200,000; Sangree, $162,500; and Rosecliff, $86,000.

Also coming out of the more than $4.45 million capital projects fund is nearly $419,000 for equipment in the police department, $215,000 for upgrades to the community center and $200,00 for slope stabilization.

At 43 percent of the budget, public safety will be the largest expense for the township followed by public works, 23 percent; and

14 percent for “operating transfers,” which includes money placed in the capital fund and field improvement fund.

General government operations take up 7 percent with the remainder split between debt service, pension obligations, recreation, community development and funding for the Northland Public Library.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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