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Township begins budget process

Published October 20. 2010 05:00PM

West Penn Township appears to be on an even fiscal keel as it begins drafting a 2011 budget.

Supervisors on Tuesday went through the spending plan line by line, penciling in figures as they took the first steps toward determining how much should be spent and how much they can count on coming in next year.

Now, the budget is a rough draft.

"The numbers will have to be adjusted to make it balance," said treasurer Karen Wittig. The township must have a new budget in place by Jan. 1.

The current $1,829,751 budget is fueled by a 4.74 mill property tax rate. each mill generates $112,954, Wittig said.

The 4.75 mill rate means the owner of a home whose taxable value is $25,000 pays $118.75 in annual township real estate tax this year.

Among the expenditures supervisors will need to determine is how much the township can give to the Penn Mahoning Ambulance Association. This year, the township gave the organization $20,000.

The ambulance association's annual fund drive is generating less revenue than it once did, he said, because of the township's burgeoning elderly population. Penn Mahoning president Don Handwerk told supervisors that he understands that Medicare, the federal program that provides health care for the elderly, will no longer pay for ambulance rides, which cost about $600 each.

The fund drive, which runs from Jan. 1-Jan. 31, asks residents to chip in $35 - less than a dollar a week, Supervisor Chairman Al Martinez pointed out - to subscribe to the service.

The association is going to need a new ambulance, which is expected to cost $153,000, Handwerk said.

The budget talks also included input from Police Chief Brian Johnson and road crew group leader Jeremy Frable.

The police department's vehicles are racking up the miles - West Penn covers 58 square miles - and should be replaced because they starting to cost the township for repairs. Johnson put three new vehicles on the police department's wish list for 2011: A Crown Victoria cruiser at $33,354.60; a Ford Expedition four-wheel drive at $39,869.26 and a Ford F-40 4-door SuperCrew truck at $38,418.68.

Wages and benefits were not entered into the budget sketch because a new contract is about to be negotiated. The police department brings in about $33,000 a year in revenue from citations.

Frable said his department needs equipment, including a new plow, an asphalt conveyer and a dump truck, totaling $139,000.

Snow removal costs last winter were $27,405.84; supervisors kept that budget at $40,000 for next year.

They also discussed upcoming road repairs, including widening portion of Golf Road and doing spot upgrades and upgrading Dairy road. The costs are figured to total about $150,000 for the two projects.

Supervisor Chairman Al Martinez at a public meeting on Sept. 21 said the township is in good fiscal health. But supervisors, after meeting in executive session, laid off two part-time road workers. The men, who earn $14.25 an hour, may be called back on an as-needed basis.

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