No tax hike planned for North Huntingdon
North Huntingdon property owners will likely see their township takes remain steady next year.
Township commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a $14.7 million tentative general fund budget, which holds the line on property taxes at 11.3 mills.
Of that tax levy, the revenue generated by 9.3 mills will be allocated to the general fund. An additional mill is set aside for the capital improvement fund and another mill goes toward the township’s fire departments.
To balance the 2020 budget, the township will have to transfer $2.2 million from its reserve fund.
Although North Huntingdon proposes to hold the line on real estate taxes next year, Jeff Silka, township manager, warned the commissioners last week during a budget discussion that it can’t sustain the current level of operations on the existing tax rate. The township has not raised real estate taxes for several years and actually cut taxes by a mill in 2013.
“We can’t do it without severely impacting services,” Silka said.
One mill generates about $380,000 for North Huntingdon and the revenue has remained flat for the past five years, Silka said.
Looking ahead, Silka said the township will have to spend about $1 million a year for the next five years to meet the requirements of the storm sewer system regulations. North Huntingdon will allocate $440,000 for stormwater facility maintenance and landslide repair next year.
“We don’t have an extra million to fix retention ponds,” Silka said.
The township is expected to approve the final budget on Dec. 18, Silka said.
In a budget-related matter, the commissioners this week promoted Ryan Fonzi from interim planning director to planning director, at a salary of $80,000.
Fonzi had been the interim planning director since former planning director-township engineer left the position in September.
Paul Christner was hired as the township engineer at a salary of $82,000.
Commissioner Brian Blasko said he was disappointed because Christner was willing to work for less money, but the township offered him more.
North Huntingdon needs to pay employees competitive salaries, otherwise, those workers will leave for other jobs, Silka said.
Having one person to handle the planning duties and another person to do engineering work should reduce the amount of money spent on contracted engineering services, Commissioner Zachary Haigis said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .