New Castle News

Closer Look

April 12, 2013

Farrell explores options for leaving Act 47

FARRELL — Farrell’s residents are already overtaxed, the city’s treasurer, Melissa Cannone, said during a hearing this week.

Officials and residents had gathered to hash out a plan for the city’s future.

“I firmly do not believe the city property taxes should be raised,” said Cannone, who doesn’t generally speak at council meetings.

The city’s property tax rate is 24.67 mills. It also levies a 1.3 percent wage tax on residents and a 1.4 percent rate on non-residents who work in the city.

“A lot of people have to decide whether to eat or buy their medicine or pay their bills,” Cannone said.

The city also loses about $160,000 in uncollected taxes each year, based on 2012 numbers, she said.

Council members and city manager Michael Ceci, along with state-appointed adviser Dr. Michael Weir, are working to put into place a plan to get Farrell out of the state Act 47 status the city earned 26 years ago when its economic base bottomed out.

Act 47 is the state program for distressed communities. Farrell was the first in the state in the program and has been joined by Greenville and New Castle, along with a score of other Rust Belt municipalities and places like Scranton, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh that also have fallen on hard economic times.

The state mandates each community in the program have a recovery plan that lays out steps to make it fiscally solvent and “viable,” meaning it has a growing tax base that generates enough cash to balance a budget that provides vital municipal services.

The 37-page document presented to council members this week paints two different pictures of the city.

One of these is bleak, forecasting no changes in the tax rates and no unnecessary increases in spending that still projects the city with a $607,000 deficit come 2017.

“Obviously that will not happen,” Weir said, noting budgetary moves would have to be made before a deficit ballooned to that figure.

The other projection paints the picture if the opposite extreme is taken and property taxes and wage taxes are increased incrementally over the next five years at the same time spending is curtailed.

It still projects a deficit, but only of about $29,000, and that would be enough for the city to be ready to exit the Act 47 program.

Councilman Bob Burich noted the city isn’t alone in facing fiscal problems.

“We’re all together in this valley.”

That’s why the ideal would be a consolidation of the communities that make up the Shenango Valley, similar to the effort that failed almost 10 years ago to do just that, Burich said.

Council will discuss the plan further when it meets Monday.

The $3 million Farrell spends each year doesn’t contain many extras.

For that money, city firefighters double as street department or public works department employees, raises are few and far between and every penny is counted by department heads.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger enters guilty plea in federal court

    The former executive director of the local intermediate unit has entered a guilty plea in federal court.

     

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lottery.jpg Lottery officials: Seniors should get smaller payout

    State lottery officials say less means more for seniors. The lottery took in $3.8 billion in sales last year and will give more than $1 billion of it — or 28.5 percent — to programs for senior citizens.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage