New Castle News

Local News

September 21, 2012

City prefers raising blue bag cost over tax increase

NEW CASTLE — Raising the cost of the city’s blue garbage bags could prevent a 2013 tax increase, city officials are hoping.

They also are considering a monthly fee for recycling and increasing the existing recycling collection to twice a month.

Those are among several recommendations that will be sent to the Act 47 coordinators who are overseeing the city’s financial recovery plan.

Four council members tossed around those and other ideas at a work session Thursday night. Discussions were geared toward finding a way to come up with the $400,000 a tax hike would generate, without raising taxes.

Council members have expressed opposition to an Act 47 recommendation to increase city property taxes by one mill next year.

The additional $1 per blue bag — boosting the cost to $3 — would be paid by all renters as well as property owners, and would generate about $400,000, on top of the $856,000 the city already receives for the system, according to figures provided Thursday night.

A one-mill tax hike would generate about $407,000.

A $2-per-month recycling fee, billed to residents, would generate close to $220,000 a year.

Attending Thursday night’s session were Councilmen Bill Panella, Edward J. Yerage Jr. and Thomas B. Smith. Councilwoman MaryAnne Gavrile led the discussion. Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo and business administrator Stephanie Dean also participated.

“You’re going to raise taxes by one mill or you’re going to add on these little fees to hit everyone,” Yerage said, contemplating the alternatives.

A suggestion was made to raise the blue bag cost by only 50 cents each, but Panella pushed for the dollar increase, arguing the city might be able to buy another truck. He added he does not want to be operating too close to budget and the $1 would give the city a little bit of extra money.

“I agree with the bags instead of raising taxes,” Mastrangelo said. “I also agree with the recycling fee.”

All the matters discussed will be turned over to the Act 47 consultants, Eckert Seamans of Pittsburgh, for their consideration.

“I think this is obviously the first step,” Dean commented. “They’re either going to say yes or no. I don’t think they can say no if there’s a blue bag increase instead of a tax increase.”

“All Act 47 says is that we have to get $400,000 a year,” Panella pointed out. “They said find it, and we found it.”

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