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City officials don't want to put tax hike in 2010 budget

| Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

All members of Connellsville City council attended the second scheduled 2010 budget workshop Tuesday but could do little because they lack concrete revenue figures. An increase in the 6.66 mill tax rate is not on the table.

Councilman Terry Bodes, chairman of accounts and finance, said officials only have an expenditure budget, tentatively set at $2.85 million, an increase over 2009's $2.72 budget. The city has spent $1.87 million through Tuesday.

City Clerk Antoinette Tesauro said the $154,000 increase was due to salary increases and income will be reduced due to PennDOT taking over winter maintenance of several state roads, including Route 119 in the city.

The treasurer's office did not provide an updated revenue report for the meeting. The most recent revenue report is dated Sept. 17 and includes revenue through Sept. 15, totaling $2.08 million, with $2.77 million anticipated through the end of 2009.

Mayor Judy Reed said council needs in-house revenue figures to complete the budget.

Tesauro said the county will not release its report on how much a mill is worth in the city until November. The city is also waiting for information about the state's contribution to the city's pension plan.

Reed said the city is getting a new computer and phone system for better budget reporting. She said some state grants may be available, but the city will have to pay an undetermined sum for the systems.

Tesauro said she will work with Armstrong Cable for long-distance coverage in order to reduce the city's $600 per month charge.

Bodes said he has evaded tax increases in the past and will continue that practice this year.

Council approved a $450,000 tax anticipation loan earlier this year and has not paid it, nor the approximately $20,000 interest. The city has the funds to pay off the loan, Councilman Charles Matthews said after the workshop.

The next workshop is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Oct. 20 in city hall. The city must pass a balanced budget by Dec. 31.

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