Penn Township budget contains no tax increase

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Penn Township residents will not see a tax increase in 2014, but neither will they see additional police protection from a new canine unit.

Commissioners Monday night approved a tentative 2014 budget of $8.5 million. But that plan does not include money for a police dog as requested by police Chief John Otto.

Last month, commissioners questioned Chief Otto on his proposed allocation of approximately $28,000 for a new dog for the department.

The chief said the dog would be especially useful in the fight against illegal drugs in the township.

"We are not alone. Drugs are on the rise everywhere," said the chief. "I believe a dog would definitely be beneficial."

According to Chief Otto, the township's last police dog was retired in 2012. The animal has not been replaced, the chief said, because of a federal lawsuit the dog's handler filed against the township. The handler claimed he was under-compensated for the additional job, and the township settled the lawsuit for $5,000.

Chief Otto said then the department probably could not have a dog and handler in place until late fall.

Chief Otto was absent from Monday's meeting due to illness.

The tentative 2014 budget estimates revenue at $8.1 million. A carryover of nearly $1.8 million will be used to balance the budget, according to Mr. Light.

With no unforeseen expenses, he anticipates the township will have a surplus of $1.37 million at year's end.

The proposed budget keeps the township's property tax rate at 14.7 mills with each mill generating $245,000. The township raised taxes by 1 mill in 2013 to provide funding for the township's five volunteer fire departments.

In other business, the commissioners:

n by a vote of 4-1 approved changing the zoning from agriculture and business to residential on 19.7 acres of land along Hyland Road to make way for a senior citizen development.

CSW Financial LLC in Cranberry sought the zoning change for the property currently owned by Donald L. Adams and Carol A. Adams, who operated Adams Cycle Salvage & Sales on the site.

Commissioner Paul Wersing cast the lone vote against the change saying he wanted more information.

n approved the sale of surplus asphalt millings to Tresco Paving Corp. of Pittsburgh for $25,432. The township received three bids for the asphalt, which must be removed by April 30.

Linda Metz, freelance writer:

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