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Summit Hill budget talks scheduled to begin Nov. 29

Published November 21. 2011 05:03PM

Summit Hill Borough Council will begin working on its new budget when it meets in special session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Council President Joe Weber indicated he would like to start budget talks earlier but a state audit was scheduled for this week.

The budget has to be adopted by the end of the year. Weber noted that the budget can be reopened for alterations in January.

Complicating the situation in Summit Hill is that the borough changed treasurers about a month ago after the previous one resigned for another position..

Although the financial state of the borough isn't known, there have been a few matters already discussed.

• The council is considering adding a sewage maintenance fee to quarterly sewer bills.

Councilman Michael Alabovitz said the fee is needed for the borough to begin planning for the upgrading of the central sewerage system.

•Some council members are considering increasing the LST Tax (Local Service Tax) from the current rate of $10 per year. This would effect individuals who work in Summit Hill.

• The council indicated it plans to continue exonerating property owners from paying garbage collection fees on vacant properties. One change, recommended by borough secretary Susan Gibiser, is that the exemptions be approved quarterly instead of monthly.

Discussion of a sewage maintenance fee arose after a resident of East White Street asked if the council has looked any more into what can be done to eliminate the backup of sewage into basements.

Although the council said some steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of heavy basement flooding that happened over a month ago, a problem continues that the sewerage system is aging.

Alabovitz said the borough presently gets about $15,000 per year in fees that are returned by the Coaldale-Lansford-Summit Hill Joint Sewer Authority.

"The system needs to be updates as a whole," he said, adding, "It's either going to cost money now or it's going to cost a lot of money later."

No specific amount was mentioned, but Weber indicated that the sewage maintenance fee is necessary.

He said such a maintenance fee would be applied only to residents who are connected to the central sewerage system.

"It can't come out of our tax dollars," he said, explaining that there are residents in some areas of the borough such as White Bear and Mountaintop Road who aren't connected to the central sewerage system.

Of the LST Tax, Gibiser indicated she would not like to see it raised. She said there are 188 people who work within the borough and who would be affected.

"If you want to hammer 188 people who are working, that's up to you," one individual remarked.

Of garbage fee exemptions, councilman Michael Kokinda said he would like to see them eliminated but would go along with approvals twice a year instead of monthly.

Councilman Harry Miller said the borough can't eliminate the exemptions.

He was supported by Attorney Joseph Matika, the borough's solicitor, who said elimination of it can occur only by changing the garbage contract.

"Why don't we leave it alone?" asked Miller.

Gibiser suggested that the exemptions be approved each quarter when bill are mailed, which the council agreed upon.

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