ShareThis Page

Commissioner: 2005 budget likely to include tax increase

| Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 12:25 p.m.

Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso said when the county's 2005 budget is introduced later this week, it will likely include a property tax increase.

"We could probably get away with one more year like this by draining everything down to zero, but I don't think that would be prudent," he said.

The exact amount of the increase to be proposed Thursday remains in doubt, because at least two commissioners must agree on the amount.

The county initiated several cost-cutting measures last January -- including layoffs -- in an effort to balance the $288 million 2004 budget.

The county projected a $9 million spending gap through 2004 and balanced its $103 million general fund budget only through the use of a $14 million reserve account.

While the forecast for the ending balance of the reserve fund is still to be determined, the county should have less than $9 million to cover any overspending next year.

A 1-mill increase would generate $3.2 million, according to fiscal director Jody Keating. Each mill would add $19 to the average taxpayer's bill of $329 annually.

Commissioner Tom Balya, chairman of the board of commissioners, was more circumspect than Ceraso.

"But I will say this. We can't operate with no cash on hand, because we're self-insured," he said, referring to the county's health insurance.

While the county is insured against catastrophic claims above several million dollars, the rest must be paid out of pocket, meaning the money has to be available so that county workers' health care coverage isn't cut off.

Commissioner Phil Light, who was appointed in October to fill the unexpired term of the late commissioner Terry Marolt, said he's not prepared to commit to a tax increase, but he's not dead set against it either.

"I don't foresee some sort of creative financing agreement," he said.

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