MAHANOY CITY To fight blight, the borough is raising taxes.

At Wednesday's meeting, the council formally adopted the 2014 operating budget that includes a 2-mill real estate tax.

The operating budget of $1,147,029.94 raises the millage from 30.524 to 32.524 mills. The assessed value of each mill is $23,377.86. The total assessed valuation of property in the borough is $23,377,860. The median value of a 2-mill increase for taxpayers is $17.39.

The new budget is slightly above the 2013 budget of $1,143,980.

During the council's November meeting, when the budget was tentatively adopted, Councilman Raymond Cavenas described how blight issues are becoming worse and the borough has been called on to deal with dangerous buildings.

"Due to this fact (dangerous building issues), council has decided to take a proactive measure in addressing blight. The borough cannot simply keep dipping into other funds and moving money as these incidents occur. So council is instituting a new fund called the 'blight fund.' This fund will be directly funded with tax revenue for the sole purpose of addressing blight and dangerous conditions that arise within the borough," Cavenas said in a prepared statement.

According to borough Manager Daniel Lynch, the difference between the 2013 and 2014 budgets is very small, allowing for no tax increase, but the continuing need for funds for blight problems led to the creation of the blight fund. If the borough receives funds through court proceedings or the sale of an abandoned lot, the money would go into the blight fund.

Cavenas read the millage levels for the new year as divided into different funds:

- General fund: 22.115 mills

- Sinking fund: 1.65 mills

- Street lighting fund: 3.35 mills

- Debt reduction fund: 2.935 mills

- Library fund: 0.474 mills

- Blight fund: 2.0 mills

The budget and tax ordinance were approved on a 5-0 vote by council President Patti A. Schnitzius, Vice President Thom Maziekas, Francis Burke, Thomas Flamini and Cavenas. Robert Lewis and Thomas E. Oblas were absent.

Distributed by MCT Information Services