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Valley News Dispatch

Cheswick Council to vote on tax hike of nearly 9 percent

Emily Balser
| Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, 4:27 p.m.
Cheswick Borough Building
Brian C. Rittmeyer
Cheswick Borough Building

Cheswick officials are considering a property tax increase of nearly 9 percent after reopening the borough's budget this month.

Borough Secretary Ian Fitzgerald said the $1.6 million budget would up the real estate tax rate from 5.35 mills to 5.85 mills.

The average tax bill would increase by about $50. For a home at the median assessed value of $103,600, the borough tax bill would jump from about $554 to $606.

Council has set a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday to vote on the budget.

Fitzgerald said the proposed tax increase isn't to cover any one expense, but to account for overall cost increases throughout the budget.

Although the borough was required to approve a 2018 budget by the end of last year, that budget can be revisited in any year that follows a municipal election year. That allows the newly seated council to work with an amended budget of its own making.

Fitzgerald said the tax increase did not have anything to do with the unexpected $500,000 the borough had to pay out last year to cover the debt it owed to its pension funds.

The borough borrowed $350,000 from First Commonwealth Bank over six years at a 2.84 percent interest rate. The other $155,000 came from the borough's budget.

Council President Paul Jack echoed Fitzgerald, saying the pension costs are a minor part of the tax increase. He said costs are rising across the board, among them police and public works salaries as well as salt and snow removal costs.

“I think what we found is that it was just a general increase,” Jack said. “We don't have any special projects ... that I can think of that drove up the cost at all.”

Copies of the proposed budget and proposed millage ordinance are available for public review from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the borough office.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or on Twitter @emilybalser.

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