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Bell Acres Council Approves 2012 Budget With No Tax Increase

Residents tax bills will remain the same -- for now.

 

approved a final $1.439 million budget for 2012 that does not include a tax increase.

The board voted, 6-0, in favor of the budget, which keeps the millage rate at 5 mills. Councilman David Renfrew was absent.

At 5 mills, a homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 will continue to pay $500 in taxes next year.

In addition, council Monday night approved a four-year public works contract that includes 3 percent raises the first two years followed by 2 percent raises in the last two years. The contract is effective Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2015. There are three full-time public works employees.

“We have a great group of employees and a good council,” said Bell Acres Manager Charles Kulbacki.

As for the budget, Kulbacki said not much has changed.

“Our budget this year is basically the same as last year,” Kulbacki said.

The road department accounts for the largest expenditure at $408,769. Depending on winter weather, Kulbacki said, the road department can use $20,000 to $30,000 on road salt to maintain its 12 miles of borough roads. The department is responsible for the upkeep of the roads, such as draining and cleaning culverts, he said. Money is also budgeted each year for a road resurfacing project.

County reassessments

Municipalities throughout Allegheny County have expressed concern about the current and what it could mean for taxpayers.  

Solicitor Robert M. Junker said his law firm has been attending weekly status conferences and met as recently as Monday morning. He said Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. seems open to a proposed property solution and is considering allowing municipalities to pass new ordinances after the Dec. 31 deadline that would reset 2012 millage rates based on new assessment values.

Wettick currently has the authority to override a state law that requires municipalities set millage rates by Dec. 31, Junker said.

That means if assessment values increase by 20 percent, the board could take the higher 2012 assessment value and calculate a lower millage rate that would generate expected revenue.

If Wettick agrees, Junker said the council would have the option to send tax bills out later or mail them as usual and send out a second tax bill that would essentially give residents the modified millage rate, the discount amount, and the total due if someone has already paid. Borough officials said the downside would be the $15,000 cost to mail out tax bills. A second mailing would mean paying double, officials said.  

Council also approved a $100,000 tax anticipation loan, which will help cover borough expenses until real estate revenue comes in.

In other business, council:

  • Announced Santa's return to Bell Acres from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Santa will ride through the borough on a fire truck, escorted by the .
  • Gave an update on the development status of the . Councilman Chris Abell, chairman of government and legislation, said progress was slow but steady. He said the group had hired a full-time caretaker to oversee the site and was making progress.

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