Baldwin Borough raising taxes, lining up new administrative team
Baldwin Borough residents will pay more in real estate taxes in 2019.
Council members in a 5-2 vote on Dec. 18 approved a .5 mill tax rate increase for 2019, taking the borough’s real estate tax rate from 6.28 mills in 2018 to 6.78 mills in 2019.
Council members Francis Scott and Michael Stelmasczyk dissented.
Council members also unanimously approved the borough’s 2019 budget including a $12.4 million general fund and $8.7 million sewer fund.
Borough Manager John Barrett pointed to a “huge hit” the borough took in increased minimum municipal obligation pension costs for both police and non-union employees as a driving factor for the real estate tax increase.
The pension MMOs increased by more than $400,000 for 2019, Barrett said.
“Once we got that news, we knew that since these budgets are lean to begin with, that without cutting services, we would have to raise (taxes),” Barrett said.
The owner of a $100,000 property in Baldwin Borough will be paying roughly $50 more in real estate taxes in 2019 due to the tax increase.
The budget also includes retirement costs related to the expected retirement of three police officers in 2019, Barrett said.
“Those things add up,” he said.
The borough also went from one to two code officers for 2019.
Built into the budget also are some matching funds for grants the borough received for park and capital upgrades, Barrett said.
As 2018 winds to a close, Baldwin leaders also are lining up a new administrative team to kick off the new year.
Barrett will leave Baldwin at the end of the year to assume a borough manager job in South Fayette Township on Jan. 2.
Council members on Dec. 18 appointed Baldwin director of municipal services Bob Firek as interim manager starting Jan. 1.
A search is under way for a full-time replacement, Barrett said. Applications for the open position are due to the borough by Jan. 7.
Two employees also will lead the code enforcement office, as borough leaders divided the code enforcement officer/building inspector job into two full-time positions following the departure of Anthony Asciolla.
Emily Moldovan started in the community development manager job on Dec. 12, at a salary of $52,500. She will oversee jobs including planning and land process development.
Kyle Ferkett will start Jan. 2 as the borough’s community compliance officer, doing most of the code enforcement and building inspections in the municipality. He will earn a $48,500 salary.
“I think we’ll be able to offer more services in that department,” Barrett said. “I think it’s a good strategic move.”
Borough leaders also are in the process of hiring a new police chief. Chief Michael Scott plans to retire at the end of January.
Council members have completed interviews for the opening and are “in negotiations with an in-house candidate,” Barrett said. He anticipates the job to be filled by January at the latest.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.