Springdale property owners face tax hike

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Springdale property owners face tax hike insurance

Springdale property owners are facing a 15 percent increase in their property taxes next year.

Council is considering a $2.3 million budget for 2017 that significantly increases in several areas.

The borough’s tax rate would be increased by a total of 1 mill, from 6.75 mills to 7.75 mills. The tax rate includes a 0.25-mill library tax and a 0.2-mill fire tax.

Council is expected to vote on the proposed budget and tax rate during at 6 p.m., Tuesday.

The borough’s overall spending would increase by about 6 percent, or about $134,000, from the $2.2 million budget this year.

Borough spending is increasing dramatically in a number of areas, according to the proposed budget.

The borough would spend significantly more on police, streets, municipal building maintenance, engineering services and liability insurance.

“It’s a pretty straight-forward budget of a town trying to take care of its infrastructure and keep safety up, it really is,” Councilman Jason Fry said.

Fry said the borough plans to add one full-time police officer and needs money to pay for repairs to roads, the water system and the borough building roof.

That is reflected in the borough budgeting $50,000 more for full-time police officer salaries, a 21 percent increase. Total police spending will rise by about 22 percent, to just under $700,000.

Fry said the borough is planning more work on streets and alleys. Street department expenses and wages are increasing by about 15 percent, from about $340,000 to $390,000.

Included is an 18 percent increase in wages, from $137,000 to almost $162,000. A new worker was hired this year, Councilman David Spirk said.

There is $4,000 budgeted for signs and markings and $1,000 for sidewalks, drains and paving, where nothing was budgeted in 2016.

Street maintenance spending is doubling from $5,000 to $10,000.

Fry said money is set aside for more work on the borough building roof, part of which was recently replaced. He said the borough is expecting to have to “baby” the roof until there is enough money for more work.

In the budget, funds for municipal building maintenance and repair are nearly tripling, from $5,000 to $13,000; $10,000 is being budgeted for major equipment, where there was none this year.

All of the work that the borough is undertaking, including improvements to its water filtration and distribution system, is driving a surge in engineering spending, Fry said.

The borough budgeted to spend only $1,500 on engineering in 2016, but had spent more than $12,000 from January to October. For next year, $15,000 is being budgeted, a tenfold increase.

Dramatic increases in liability insurance costs have been driven by lawsuits against the borough, Fry said. The borough had lost its coverage and had to find a new provider, he said.

“It was to the point where we were stuck. We didn’t have options,” Fry said. “Whether a lawsuit is legitimate or frivolous, you have to report it to your insurance company. They determine whether or not they’re going to settle, whether you like it or not.”

The liability insurance for public officials is more than quadrupling, from $7,300 to $33,650; liability insurance for police is more than tripling, from $8,000 to $24,375.

The budget is available for public inspection at the borough building.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.