Carnegie council members voted 5-1 to adopt a budget that totals almost $5.7 million, but they withheld action on the property tax rate because of continuing Allegheny County assessment appeals.
"This year has been quite a turmoil for every community in the county because of the reassessment," council President Rick D'Loss said Jan. 14, adding that the borough's millage may not be set until shortly before the tax bills are mailed out in July.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick has given municipalities until 10 days before tax bills are mailed to determine millage.
"By that time we will have a better feeling on the revenues [needed] to pay the borough's bills," Council President Rick D'Loss said.
He went on to note that the new spending plan is about 2.6 percent higher than last year, which he attributed to normal employee raises plus "a significant hike" in worker compensation premiums.
Mr. D'Loss projected that the tax rate, which accounts for 40 percent of Carnegie's revenue, would be less than last year's 7.2-mill levy. Though he expects residential tax bills to vary because of the reassessments, he believes many business owners' taxes could rise.
Councilman Robert Veres, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the budget adoption, said he objects to paying $8,000 a month for the Carnegie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Bureau's building on West Main Street.
"I believe that since we're paying for the building, it should be the borough's property," he said, adding that the parcel should be refinanced at a lower interest rate.
Mr. Veres also said that the borough took the property over in 2009 when the fire and rescue bureau couldn't afford to pay for it, but that its title remains in the fire bureau's name.
Besides paying $96,000 a year on the building's mortgage, Carnegie also pays for the department's gasoline, utilities and insurance, he said.
Under the president's fire department report, Mr. D'Loss said a session held earlier that evening with a fire and rescue bureau representative indicated that progress is being made on getting the fire department's financial records in order.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org