Unity holds tax line for 2020, looks to increase reward in arson investigation | TribLIVE.com

Unity holds tax line for 2020, looks to increase reward in arson investigation

Jeff Himler
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
In this file photo from Sept. 25, 2017, burned out vehicles remain in place after a Sept, 24 fire at the Unity Township public works garage. A state police fire marshal ruled it an arson.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Construction of the new Unity Township public works garage, seen at dusk on Nov. 14, 2019, is nearing completion next to the township municipal building. The garage replaces one that was destroyed in a Sept. 24, 2017, arson.

Unity supervisors said they intend to hold the line on township taxes under a $7 million budget proposed for next year.

The township’s general real estate tax, which is set to remain at 2.2 mills, is expected to generate about $630,000 in revenue. A separate 2-mill tax that supports local volunteer firefighting operations is projected to raise about $570,000.

Tentatively approved this week , the budget reflects an increase of $141,500 from the current year’s spending plan, said John Mylant, chairman of the supervisors. He said the increase is spread evenly among spending categories.

The largest category is road and garage expenses, budgeted at about $1.7 million.

Mylant said the township “did really well” in containing costs as it continues to recover from a Sept. 24, 2017, fire that destroyed its public works garage and much of the equipment stored inside.

Insurance is expected to cover most of the recovery cost, as the township nears completion of a $2.4 million replacement garage. But, Mylant said, “There’s a lot of other expenses we had to pick up for equipment…. We’re still shopping for used equipment.”

Township engineer Dan Schmitt said, if weather permits, construction of the garage could be substantially complete by the end of December. In the meantime, the township has been renting public works space at two local sites.

The supervisors approved change orders totaling about $108,000 for the garage project and agreed to set up a Go Fund Me page to solicit funds that could be added to a $10,000 reward township insurer Cincinnati Insurance has offered for information leading to a conviction in the arson case.

There have been no leads so far in the case, Supervisor Ed Poponick said. “If we can raise more money maybe someone will come forward,” he said.

Solicitor Gary Falatovich noted no township funds can be used for such a reward.

Anyone with information is asked to contact state police at 724-832-3288.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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