New Kensington proposes tax increase to combat blight | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

New Kensington proposes tax increase to combat blight

2017485_web1_web-newkensingtonsign

An ambitious program to eliminate blight in New Kensington is one factor behind a proposal to raise real estate taxes in the city by 11%.

Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve an $8.1 million preliminary budget that would increase property taxes from 27 mills to 30 mills.

A property owner with a home assessed at $65,000 would see their tax bill go from about $175.50 to $195 next year.

City officials said they want to acquire and demolish about 100 abandoned homes over the next three years. In some cases, they are targeting areas with multiple abandoned homes together that, once demolished, would be more attractive to a potential developer.

The biggest chunk of the preliminary budget, nearly $3 million, is for the police department and related costs.

“In the last 10 or 12 years, we have provided the same level of services,” City Controller John Zavadak said. “We’ve not reduced the police department and, in fact, we’re back up after replacing five (police) retirees from this year.”

Zavadak said overall real estate values have decreased about $5 million in the past five years, and revenue from the city’s mercantile tax has dipped from $300,000 to $165,000. Much of the reduction was caused by the closing of the Kmart store in Riverview Plaza.

“We have about 6,600 housing units in the city and about half are rentals,” Zavadak said. “We’re looking for every source of revenue we can find.”

The city will use a $500,000 demolition grant to help eliminate blight, but it’s hard to say how many demolitions that would cover because some buildings could be more costly to take down if asbestos removal is needed.

About $150,000 was included in the preliminary budget for paving next year.

Councilman Tim DiMaio said the top paving priority is Carl Avenue now that water authority projects there are finished.

Additional streets to be paved will be determined later, according to officials.

A special meeting will be scheduled this month to adopt a final budget.

George Guido is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.