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Westmoreland

North Huntingdon officials propose a $14 million budget for 2018 with no tax hike

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 9:42 p.m.

North Huntingdon officials Thursday unveiled a proposed $14 million general fund budget for 2018 that holds the line on real estate taxes and does not cut programs or services.

The proposed budget will maintain real estate taxes at 9.23 mills with revenue that is “fairly stable to flat,” compared to this year, said Michael Turley, assistant manager.

The total budget, including all funding sources, will be about $16.7 million, Turley said.

“It is very close to the 2017 projected revenue,” Turley said.

The commissioners did not vote on approving the budget. That could occur Wednesday, Turley said.

To balance the budget, Turley told the commissioners that $2.1 million will be transferred from the reserve fund to the general fund.

The township will spend about $1.1 million on its road paving program next year, plus another $100,000 for repairing rural roads, Turley said. The road work done by the public works department will amount to a few hundred thousand dollars, Turley added.

North Huntingdon will have a capital improvements plan that will range from $600,000 to $660,000, Turley said.

In reviewing the budget with the department heads, Turley said there was some discussion about the need for a program manager in the parks department. Turley said he hesitated to recommend hiring another person since the new township manager, Jeff Silka, just started his job Nov. 1.

The township administrators did discuss hiring a person who could work in more than one department, what they referred to as a “hybrid employee,” Turley said.

“It's not the right time to propose staff additions,” Turley said.

Commissioner Michael Faccenda Jr. said he was concerned about a $20,000 cut proposed for playground equipment.

With the parks and recreation facilities undergoing a comprehensive plan, Turley said that Dan Miller, the parks director, wanted to wait on spending that money. Turley said the township's consultant is not yet in the design phase of the comprehensive plan.

Commissioner Zachary Haigis raised the issue of moving the police and fire dispatching services to the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety's 911 center as a way of saving money.

Haigis said he didn't want to eliminate jobs, but “it's an easy grab” for saving the township money.

Commissioner Duane Kucera, a retired township police officer, said he would oppose such a move.

Commissioner David Herold said that township emergency responders get a more personalized service from local dispatchers who know the community.

Lt. Rod Mahinske, the township's ranking police officer, said that the township's dispatching center serves as a backup for the county's 911 dispatching system in case that would be unable to function.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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