New Kensington property tax to increase 7.4 percent next year
New Kensington property owners will be paying 7.4 percent more in real estate tax next year.
The city last raised taxes in 2003, when they were also raised two mills.
The tax rate will increase from 27.03 to 29.03 mills.
Council approved the increase 5-0.
“I think it's in the best interest in the city to raise taxes by two mills as an investment into moving the city forward,” said Councilman Todd Mentecki.
Mentecki, who oversees the city's accounts and finances, said that the city leaders have done what they can over the years to keep the city fiscally responsible while also maintaining a high level of service to residents.
“I believe that the bodies in here, and all of the department heads, have been fiscally responsible to the best of our abilities,” he said. “We've watched the way we spent, pinched pennies and we're very conservative on how we spend. I think that's been great to maintain the services that we have in the city.”
However, Mentecki also noted that costs have gone up in the last decade, among them wages, insurance payments and the price of fuel.
But more than that, Mentecki said, in order for the city to really move toward revitalization, officials need to do more than aim for keeping the lights on.
‘Making an investment'
He said that it is time to make an investment in the city.
“We also need to look a little bit further in depth than just maintaining, we need to find a way to invest in the city,” he said.
Councilman Tim DiMaio said that the increase will allow the city to do basic things that are long overdue.
“We'll be able to fix the roads,” he said.
Mentecki said that he has spoken with dozens of constituents and not a single one said that raising taxes to invest in the city's infrastructure was a bad idea.
According to Mentecki, the additional tax revenue will also increase funding for the code enforcement office as it works to combat blight in the city.
It will also fund police and fire equipment at a time when the tools they require grow increasingly more expensive, he said.
“Our ladder truck needs tens of thousands of dollars in repairs — this will help pay for that,” he said.