How budgets, taxes look in the South Hills

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It’s a new year and time for a new municipal tax bill.

Most towns in the South Hills have passed budgets for 2014 and most did not raise taxes. Of course in North Strabane, that’s a tradition; the growing township has not raised real estate taxes for the past 20 years.

And, West Mifflin even had a slight decrease in millage that home owners there will see in their bills..

Here is a look at what you — and acquaintances in other towns — can expect in the mail and a thumbnail sketch of where you tax money is spent. The numbers were provided by each town. Note that some municipalities could not provide an estimate of an average tax bill in their town.

The list does not include Jefferson Hills or Pleasant Hills as those towns have reopened their budgets. It does not include Munhall because council will be voting to adopt a budget this week. Baldwin and Whitehall boroughs did not respond to requests for information.

In Allegheny County:

Baldwin Township — There is no tax increase this year. The real estate millage is 7.8, and each mill brings in about $109,225. The 2014 budget is a balanced $2.8 million. Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax. Spending is primarily for the police and public works departments. A new project for 2014 is a $100,000 road paving program.

“Our main purpose is to keep the taxes down while providing the necessary services,’’ said new board chairwoman Eileen Frisoli.

Details: 412-341-9597

Bethel Park — New this year is a 0.34 mill real estate tax increase, or a dedicated fire tax to support the operations of the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Department.

The new millage is 2.32, and each mill brings in about $2.3 million.

The 2014 budget of $37.8 million has revenues of $37.8 million and expenses of $37.8 million. There is a surplus of $6.4 million.

The $37.8 million budget consists of balanced budgets for: general fund: $23.6 million; sewage fund: $9.1 million; capital fund: $3.5 million; transportation district fund: $250,479; liquid fuels fund:$623,653; new created fire department fund: $783,361.

Revenues come primarily from enabling taxes like earned income, deed transfer, mercantile and local services ($9.2 million). The second major source of revenue is the real estate tax ($5.4 million).

Spending is primarily for public safety ($4.9 million) and sanitation ($2.5 million).

A new project for 2014 is construction of a new fire department building to cost about $8.2 million.

“We are trying to keep costs down while doing what is best for the municipality,’’ said finance director Joe Villella.

Tim Moury was recently voted board chairman.

Details: 412-831-6800

Brentwood — There is a real estate tax increase of 1.25 mills this year. The new millage is 8.75 and each mill brings in $397,000. The average tax bill in Brentwood is $700 based on the average assessed property value of $80,000. The 2014 budget of a balanced $15.28 million. There is a surplus of $327,000.

There is also a general fund budget of $6.5 million; sanitary sewer fund budget of $5.4 million; park fund of $2 million; capital improvement fund of $2.5 million; highway aid fund of $179,000.

Revenues come primarily from $2.9 million in real estate tax revenue; $750,000 in earned income taxes; and $2.4 million in sewage charges.

Spending is primarily on employees, benefits, contractual increases and healthcare, which is up 10% this year.

New projects in 2014 include: bleachers, press box, ticket booth, concessions stand, bathrooms and parkways in Brentwood Park, which will become handicapped accessible. There is also an ongoing paving program for six streets.

“The borough will turn a hundred years old next year, so a lot of updates and maintenance are needed,’’ said manager George Zboyovsky. “Council and mayor want to make sure Brentwood is thriving for another hundred.’’

Council chairman is Marty Vickless.

Details: 412-884-1500

Castle Shannon — There is an increase of 1.05 mills in the real estate tax. New millage is 8.38, and each mill brings in $392,452. The average tax bill is $670. The 2014 general fund budget is a balanced $4.7 million. There is a surplus of $300,000 for debt service purposes.

The general fund budget is $50,000 less than 2013 as there was $30 million in real estate appeals last year.

Besides the $4.7 million general fund budget, there is a $632,300 capital improvement fund, $1.6 million sewage budget and $700,000 debt service fund.

Real estate taxes and the earned income tax make up 70 percent of the general fund. Spending is primarily for public safety and public works, such as solid waste disposal and roads.

New projects include a new roof on the municipal building, a water mitigation project at the municipal building and road improvements.

“We are a fully developed community, so the budget is always in a state of review to maintain financial stability and services,’’ said manager Thomas Hartswick.

Nancy J. Kovach is council chairwoman.

Details: 412-885-9200

Clairton — There is no tax increase; millage is 33 mills on land, and 3.5 mills on buildings. About $1.1 million is collected in real estate taxes each year.

The 2014 budget is a balanced $4.4 million. There is a $2 million surplus.

Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax, earned income tax, RAD tax and mercantile and business privilege taxes.

Spending goes primarily to the police department, public works and insurances.

The city’s three biggest budgets are the general fund ($4.4 million), capital projects fund ($923,000) and liquid fuels fund ($204,000).

For 2014 in capital projects, the city is doing some major demolitions and road paving, committing $500,000. Officials are also looking at the HVAC system at city hall which is the original one from 1977. The city is also replacing public works equipment.

For the 26th year, Clairton is an Act 47 distressed community. But manager Howard Bednar noted that the new budget shows that “we are making significant progress. We have had good years in 2011, 2012 and 2013, so there is a good chance in the next two to three years we will come out of Act 47.’’

Mayor Richard Lattanzi is council chairman.

Details: 412-233-8113

Dormont — There is no tax increase; millage remains at 8.97. The average tax bill is $897 for property assessed at $100,000. The 2014 budget is a balanced $10.67 million. The reserve fund for emergencies is $1 million.

The borough’s budget is comprised of four fund accounts: general fund, ($8 million; 75 percent of budget); sewer fund ($1.8 million; 16 percent of budget); capital reserve fund ($810,239; 7.6 percent of budget); and highway aid fund ($153,005; 1.4 percent of budget).

Revenues come primarily from property taxes; local services/earned income tax and other taxes, such as licenses, permits and fines.

Spending goes primarily to the police department ($1.59 million); employee benefits ($963,833) and debt principal and interest ($833,471).

New projects include resurfacing the pool parking lot, a road and 30 alleys; replacement of personal computers and software; waterproofing the borough building.

“We were able to provide enhanced services without having to raise millage rate,’’ said manager Jeff Naftal

Council chairman this year is Bill McCartney.

Details: 412-831-6800

Elizabeth Borough — There is no tax increase and millage is 8 mills with each mill bringing in about $38,000.

The average tax bill is about $400. The 2014 budget is a balanced $760,312. There is no surplus.

Revenues come primarily from real estate taxes, earned income tax, cable franchise fees and permits. Spending goes to public works, four full-time employees, benefits and a police force of two full-time and 10 part-time officers.

A new project is the refurbishing of Irwin Street, which was washed out in the July flooding.

“Our budget every year is bare bones, no frills, and we try to do the best we can for the taxpayers. We have not raised taxes in more than eight years,’’ said council president Monica Glowinski

Details: 412-384-7771

Elizabeth Township — No tax increase this year; millage remains at 3.9, of which 0.5 is the fire levy.

A mill brings in about $514,520. The average tax bill is $357.51. The 2014 budget of $5.5 million has revenues estimated at $5.53 million and expenditures of $5.52 million. The surplus is $9,000.

The major revenue sources for 2014 are: real estate tax, $2 million; earned income tax, $1.6 million; a grant, $500,000; RAD tax, $263,000; and franchise fees, $211,150.

The major expenditures are: public safety, $1.38 million; public works, $1.09 million; and capital construction, $782,000.

The above are all general fund monies. The township has no other fund budgets but will create a sanitary sewer fund once the sanitary authority — which has been dissolved — operations are fully absorbed by the municipality.

A new project is rehabbing a vacant building to become a community center on Chapel Drive.

Commission chairman is Gene Francesconi.

Details: 412-751-2880

Glassport — There is no tax increase and millage remains at 8.9. Each mill brings in about $90,000. The average tax bill is $300. The 2014 budget is a balanced $2 million. There is a surplus of $45,000.

Besides the $2 million budget, there is a sewage budget of $587,000.

Revenues come primarily from the earned income and real estate taxes. Spending is primarily for the police and public works departments.

No new projects are planned this year.

“It’s a solid budget, and we are financially in good shape,’’ said manager John DeSue

Council chairman is Dave Kowalski.

Details: 412-672-7400

Green Tree — There is no tax increase, and millage remains 4.35, with each mill generating about $525,000. The 2014 budget is a balanced $7.7 million. There is a surplus of $500,000.

Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax, business privilege tax, and earned income tax. Expenditures are primarily for the police department and public works department.

Besides the $7.7 million budget, there is a $1.2 million capital projects fund.

New projects include paving, and new sidewalks along Greentree Road.

“Council is pleased to pass a budget with no tax increase with services the same and provide improvements,’’ said manager W. David Montz

Council chairman is Mark Sampogna.

Details: 412-921-1110

Homestead — There is a 0.33 millage increase called a ''special purpose tax’’ this year. The special purpose tax is to help fund the Carnegie Library of Homestead, which is what voters (also in Munhall and West Homestead) passed on the ballot in November.

The new millage is 13.33, and each mill brings in about $40,000. The average tax bill is $289 ($281 to the borough for general purposes, and $9 to the library). The 2014 budget is a balanced $4.2 million. There is no surplus.

Revenues come primarily from taxes and fees, and spending goes primarily for police and water/sewage costs.

New projects include a stormwater management project in cooperation with West Homestead and Munhall.

“For the third straight year, Homestead has passed a balanced budget with no property tax increase for general purposes and no reduction in the size of our work force,’’ said manager Ian McMeans.

Lloyd Cunningham is council chairman.

Details: 412-461-1340

West Homestead — There is a 0.33 millage increase this year to help fund the Carnegie Library of Homestead, which is what voters (also in Munhall and Homestead) passed on the ballot in November.

The new millage is 7.38. The average tax bill is about $580. The 2014 budget is a balanced $2 million. There is a surplus for reimbursement of appealed tax assessments.

Revenues primarily come from property and earned income taxes, with spending going primarily to the police and public works departments.

This year the borough is working to redevelop vacant properties and continue updates to its sanitary sewer system.

The borough is also working to provide more environmentally friendly infrastructure to the region through collaboration with the other Steel Valley municipalities.

“The 2014 budget was set with the goal of continuing to provide exceptional services, with minimal but necessary tax increases,’’ said manager Kyle Thauvette.

Council chairman is William Stasko.

Details: 412-461-1844

Mt. Lebanon — There is no tax increase. Millage remains at 4.51 and each mill brings in $2.7 million. The average tax bill is $845. The 2014 budget is $51.4 million. There is $45 million in operating revenues, and expenditures of $51.4 million.

The municipality will not be creating new surplus in 2014, but will balance the budget by using some of the surplus from 2012 and 2013.

The $51.4 million budget includes the general fund, capital project fund and special revenue fund (sewers and liquid fuels).

Revenues come largely from property and earned income taxes, followed by sewer usage fees. Spending is going largely to public safety, which includes a paid fire department, and large capital improvement projects.

New projects for 2014 include a renovated bath house and pool with modern features, and improving the streetscape along Beverly Road.

“It’s a very comprehensive budget working toward our strategic plan, which involves working on a transit-oriented district on Washington Road, our sidewalk plan, parking garages, and all other projects marked for the upcoming years,’’ said finance director Andrew McCreery.

Kristen Linfante is commission chairman.

Details: 412-343-3400

South Park — There is no tax increase and millage remains at 3.06 in the township. Each mill brings in $730,118. The 2014 budget is a balanced $6.2 million. The surplus will not be known until year’s end.

Revenues primarily come from the earned income and property taxes, and spending is going primarily to the police and public works departments.

New projects for 2014 include two bridge projects: the upgrading of the Wood Street bridge and a replacement bridge project — in coordination with Jefferson Hills — on McElheny Road. There will also be road paving and the hiring of a full-time police officer.

“The township has a no-frills budget to meet public safety, infrastructure improvements, recreation, as well as our library,’’ said manager Karen Fosbaugh

Supervisors chairman is Dave Buchewicz.

Details: 412-831-7000

South Versailles — There will be no tax increase, and millage remains at 2.9. The 2014 budget is a balanced $104,128. There is no surplus.

Besides the general fund, the township has a sewage budget of about $58,000.

Revenues come primarily from the property tax, earned income tax and fees; spending is primarily to contract police services with White Oak.

No new projects are planned.

John Warabak is commission chairman.

Details: 412-466-7377

West Elizabeth — There is no tax increase and millage remains at 3.93 mills. The 2014 budget is a balanced $156,650.

Revenues come primarily from the wage and property taxes. Spending is going primarily to contract police services from Elizabeth Borough, public works and insurances.

“I’m pleased with the budget because we know how much we have on hand to spend, and how much we have projected for miscellaneous and the necessities,’’ said council president Louise Biddle

Details: 412-384-8200

West Mifflin — There will be a 0.47 mill decrease in the real estate tax this year. The new millage is 7.55, and each mill brings in $1.1 million. The average tax bill is $536. The 2014 budget is a balanced $16.66 million. There is no surplus.

Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax, Act 511 taxes, mercantile tax, business district (Century 3 mall) and amusement tax.

Spending is primarily for the police and public safety departments.

The $16.66 million includes all the departmental budgets.

New projects: The borough bought a new complex for the police department and borough administration offices at 1020 Lebanon Church Road. The hope is that the school district administrative offices will also relocate to the new facility. The municipal building at 3000 Lebanon Church Road is up for sale. The goal is to move into the new building in March.

“We have been working for three years on expenses we could cut, or on increasing revenue, and been very diligent on watching our expenses and watching assessments. We’re anticipating good things this year,’’ said manager Brian Kamauf.

Michael Moses is council chairman.

Details: 412-466-8170

Upper St. Clair — There is no tax increase, and millage remains at 3.83. Each mill brings in about $2 million.

The average tax bill for the township’s real estate tax is based on the average home value of $217,300, and is $832.

The 2014 general fund revenues are $19.9 million, and expenditures are $19.9 million.

The two main revenue sources are earned income taxes of $8.2 million, and real estate taxes of $7.8 million.

The two main general fund expenditures are public works at $5.7 million, and public safety at $4.8 million.

A major project of 2014 will be the renovation of Wiltshire Park at a cost of $400,000, with grant picking up about 60 percent.

“The 2014 budget is trying to keep tax rates steady while maintaining the service levels that the residents have come to expect,’’ said finance director August Stache

Robert Orchowski is commission chairman.

Details: 412-831-9000.

And in Washington County:

Cecil — There is no tax increase, and millage remains at 16, with each mill bringing in about $140,000.

The average tax bill is $250. The 2014 budget is a balanced $6.6 million. The surplus amount is not yet known, but it will be used to repair roads.

Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax, earned income tax, realty transfer tax, Act 13 revenue and more. Spending is going primarily to the public safety and public works departments.

No new projects have been decided on at this time.

“This year’s budget reflects a subtle increase over last year’s,’’ noted manager Don Gennuso

Supervisors’ chairman is Andrew Schrader.

Details: 724-745-2227

North Strabane — There is no tax increase, nor has there been for the past 20 years. Millage was reduced by one-half mill in 2013.

The millage is 10.98, and each mill brings in $182,300. The average tax bill is $200-$250. The 2014 budget is a balanced $11.2 million.

There is a surplus of $1.5 million.

The $11.2 million includes all the budgets, such as the street lights budget, fire budget, highway aid fund and more. Revenues come primarily from the real estate tax, earned income tax, realty transfer tax and local services tax. Spending is primarily for the police and public works departments.

New projects in 2014 include $1 million for road paving and $200,000 to replace park equipment.

“The township’s tax base continues to grow. The township averages 80 to 150 new housing starts each year for the past 20 years.

Also, the Meadows Racetrack and Casino just broke ground on a $10 million hotel, and ground will be broken in 2014 on Racetrack Road for apartments, small shops and restaurants, said manager Frank Siffrinn.

The board chairman has not been elected yet.

Details: 724-745-8880

Peters — There is no tax increase this year. The millage is 13 mills, and each mill brings in $331,871. The average tax bill is about $812.50. The 2014 budget of $18.63 million has revenues of $16.4 million and expenses of $18.63 million. There is a surplus of $10 million.

The township has multiple budgets, each of which is included in the $18.63 million budget.

Those funds include: general fund ($11.2 million); capital projects ($2.9 million); solid waste services ($1.5 million); library ($969,200); bond issue ($921,671); liquid fuels ($497,656) and more.

Revenues come primarily from the earned income and real estate taxes and fees.

Spending is primarily for public works and safety.

Major projects for 2014 include the annual road paving program, purchase of a new fire truck, and a new recreation plan.

"Last year was a positive one for us, carrying over a fairly decent balance, and putting us in good shape for the upcoming year,’’ said manager Michael Silvestri

Council chairman is James Berquist.

Details: 724-941-4180.


Compiled by freelance writer Margaret Smykla

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