New Castle News

November 21, 2013

No tax hike anticipated in Hickory Township

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Hickory Township supervisors bought a building and pumped more than $100,000 into their budget for next year.

The spending plan calls for no increase in property taxes,  but residents can expect to pay more to the fire department.

The fire tax will be increased from 0.25 mills to 0.375 mills or nearly a 50 percent increase, according to early calculations.

At a budget workshop this week, supervisors Kathy Abranovich, Jon Sweet and chairman Bill Dean totted up a preliminary budget of $597,959. Township auditor Chris Fabian and resident Tom Houston also attended.

“Fire department equipment is so expensive and we haven’t increased our fire tax for four or five years,” Abranovich said.

“It has been more than 25 years since there has been a property tax increase,” she pointed out.

The budget must be adopted by Dec. 31.

Township secretary Carol Kordish said the 2104 budget might be introduced at the board’s next meeting, on Dec. 2, or a special meeting might be called if more adjustments are needed.

The budget will be available for public review at the township building at 127 Eastbrook-Neshannock Falls Road after it is formally introduced.

Property tax millage will remain at 0.70 for the general fund and the real estate transfer tax will remain at half of 1 percent. Light tax will remain at 70 cents per foot on frontage on improved property and 25 cents on unimproved land.

Earned income (wage) tax will stay at 1 percent, amusement tax at 7 percent and per capita tax at $5.

The township will benefit next year from a new real estate assessed valuation expected to bring in $100,410,690, the supervisors said.

This is $1,157,042 greater than the current assessed valuation.

The township also could see a windfall in gas drilling revenues. Although $3,000 was budgeted, revenues could be greater if a significant number of wells are drilled, they said.

The township in August borrowed $100,000 to purchase the former Downing’s Cabinets building at 2386 Eastbrook Road, which will be home to their new township building.

The loan, to be repaid at 2.99 percent over five years, will not necessitate a tax increase, nor will renovation or furnishings, the supervisors said. They expect to move into the new facility in the spring.

The budget also is to include a 4 percent wage increase for the township secretary and a 50-cent per hour raise for the township’s four part-time police officers.

The supervisors said the township is in good financial shape and they have made recent improvements that are benefiting its 2,400 residents.