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Portions of 13 Leetsdale roads scheduled for paving this year

| Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Leetsdale Borough has authorized Nichols & Slagle Engineering Inc. to design and advertise the final phase of the borough's four-year roadway repaving project. Upon successful completion of paving, residents will see the elimination of an additional tax on assessed property value, which council enacted in December 2013 to cover road reconstruction and repairs.

The 2018 phase consists of overlaying portions of Sycamore Spur, Oak Drive, Elm Drive, Riverview Drive, Beech Court, Beech Street, Winding Road, Wood Spur, Victory Terrace, Sixth Street; and sections of Petrun Road, Third at First streets. The plan also calls for the Route 65 overpass ramp down to First Street to be paved.

In all, about 2.5 miles of roadway would be paved.

The road tax rate of 2 mills will likely expire at the end of 2018, according to Councilman Joe McGurk.

“We promised the people that as soon as the roads were done and we had a little money in the maintenance budget to keep the roads in good shape that we would retire the tax, and we're there,” he said.

Borough engineer Daniel Slagle said he expects this year's work to cost an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 — all of which will be funded by the road reconstruction tax. Public bidding for 2018 paving opens March 8.

By law, the borough must select the “lowest responsible bidder,” Slagle said.

“It's my job to determine who the lowest responsible bidder is,” he said.

Council will vote on Slagle's recommendation after he chooses a contractor.

Paving likely will begin in late spring or early summer, although the exact start date depends on which contractor the borough chooses and how soon that contractor can get access to the necessary materials.

“Asphalt plants typically don't open until April,” Slagle said. “Normally what happens with our borough is we try to get all paving done before the Fourth of July.”

Leetsdale's annual Fourth of July parade became a sticking point for McGurk several years ago when he first brought up the idea for the road tax while serving as council president.

“We decided instead of getting a bond, that we'd have a 2-mill increase until the roads were done,” he said.

However, residents hesitated to support the tax because Leetsdale officials at the time were using borough money to fund the parade and fireworks.

After forming a Fourth of July committee with other council members, McGurk and his colleagues found a way to get the necessary funding by enlisting the help of private donations. The community then became more supportive of the tax.

Borough officials aimed for transparency in their process for funding road paving, he said, adding that residents have had the ability to see the bill showing how much money was spent on road repairs.

“It showed them that (the money) went directly to the contractor, and we've been open and honest since day one,” McGurk said.

With the pending elimination of the road tax, the borough property tax rate will drop from 10 mills to 8 mills starting in 2019.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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