ShareThis Page

30 percent tax hike proposed

| Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

FORD CITY — Council on Tuesday revealed a $2.6 million 2012 general fund draft budget for the borough that will raise taxes for borough property owners by about 30 percent.

Council voted 5-0 to advertise its proposed spending plan that includes a 4.65-mill property tax increase. Council members John Lux, Ray Klukan, Ron Dillard, Lou Vergari and Paul Harmon voted for the preliminary budget. Councilman Rob Mohney was absent from the meeting.

The tentative budget calls for the millage rate to be increased from 14.65 mills to 19.3 mills; and it includes an increase from 9.25 mills to 13.9 mills levied for general purposes and unchanged special taxes of 1 mill for the public library, 1.65 mills for street lighting, .15 mills for non-uniform employee pensions and 2.6 mills for fire equipment.

One mill of taxes, if all of it is collected, generates about $38,000 of income for the borough.

Vergari said a property owner with a $50,000 home with an assessed value of $25,000 will see their borough real estate tax bill go up by about $100.

Harmon, the finance committee chairman, said that since 2000 there have been three tax increases with none for the general purposes fund — the increases were for debt services, fire apparatus and street lighting.

Council members believe the tax increase can be reduced in the final budget.

"I think we should be able to find some savings and get the tax rate down," said Harmon.

Harmon blamed increased contributions to the borough's minimum municipal obligation for the general employees' pension plan and police pension plan; rising health insurance costs, increases in employee benefits and wages and higher gasoline costs for the budget shortage of about $123,000.

"The police pension really hit the borough hard," said Lux.

Lux said council will look for cuts before approving a final budget. He did not say where he thought the budget could be trimmed.

Dillard said after the meeting that in his opinion, the police pension fund was not well managed. He said the borough must increase payments to the fund to make up for previous inadequacies in the funding of it.

"The police department is costing us about 55 percent of all the money coming into the borough," said Dillard.

Council said the preliminary budget is available for public review and is expected to be given final approval at its second public meeting in late December.

In other borough business, council approved purchasing a used Ford 3/4-ton pickup for the maintenance department from Hal Wading for $9,000.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me