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Coaldale budget carries tax increase

Published February 15. 2012 05:01PM

Coaldale property owners will have to dig a little deeper into their wallets this year.

Council on Tuesday adopted a $1,686,175 budget that calls for a 2.4 mill tax increase and cut five full-time employees, including three police officers and having council and the mayor forego their monthly stipends.

The 11.09 percent tax increase brings the total levy to 25.04 mills.

The spending plan means the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 will pay $626 this year. That's $62.50 more than last year.

Each mill generates about $28,000.

The millage breaks down to 21.540 for the general fund (up 2 mills); 2 mills for the light fund (up 0.5 mill); 1 mill for the fire protection fund and 0.5 mill for the pension fund.

The budget was finished and made public hours before council adopted it Tuesday night.

Fire Chief Richard Marek questioned the procedure.

"Doesn't a budget have to be posted for 10 days before passing it?" he asked.

Solicitor Michael Greek said the preliminary budget, approved in December, was posted for 10 days.

However, Marek said council reopened the spending plan on Jan. 10. By law, it had to be adopted by today, Feb. 15.

Ed J. Knittle, who is the senior director of Education and Sustainability for the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, said the new spending plan should have been published and posted, just as the original one was.

The 2012 budget includes no money for office cleaning - the assistant secretary has volunteered to do that on her own time. It also includes a $9,500 payment on a 2010 police cruiser; $4,000 for a Code Enforcement Officer; $1,200 for an animal control officer's salary; and $300 for the Board of Health; and $239,000 for a 5-year trash collection contract.

The tax increase is smaller than the one proposed in December. That spending plan called for a 3-mill increase. Council has said an increase in workers' compensation premiums and loan repayments associated with contract with a Lackawanna County firm, Municipal Energy Managers, which is being investigated for fraud, for the need for a tax hike.

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