Export officials released a $452,000 budget proposal this month that would hold the line on the 2015 real-estate tax rate but use sewage funds to supplement salaries, the engineering department and miscellaneous borough expenses.
Officials have budgeted about $25,000 in sewage funds as additions to 2015 line items for borough salaries, $11,660; engineering, $3,500; and miscellaneous expenses, $9,780.
The state code, however, states that “all money received from the sewer charges shall be deposited as a special reserve fund and shall be used only for the payment of the cost of operating and maintaining the community sewage collection or disposal system and the replacement of the collection or disposal system, if necessary and economically desirable.”
Mayor Mike Calder referred all questions about the use of sewage funds to the borough solicitor, Wes Long.
Long didn’t return multiple calls for comment, but Mike Witherel — owner of Witherel & Associates, a Pittsburgh-area law firm with experience in municipal law — said that if the money being shifted is used to pay for sewer-related expenses, such as engineering related to sewer projects, the move is less likely to be a violation of the code.
Listed among the borough’s 2015 assets is $196,000 in the sewage fund and more than $265,000 in anticipated sewage revenue next year.
Export officials are also preparing for the holiday season: about $9,000 from the J.M. Hall Estate Trust will go toward the installation of Christmas decorations throughout the borough.
In addition, Councilman James Mahinske will be contracted to erect the former Westinghouse lighted tree, which was discovered by Councilman John Nagoda when he purchased an old Westinghouse equipment warehouse in 2012. The 35-foot “tree,” which actually is a central pole with strings of lights forming a tree shape, features a host of varying light sequences.
It will be placed at the entrance to the future Joseph “Junior” Hall Community Park.
Council also expressed an interest in taking on storage of the tree next year to save on the cost of keeping it in a rented location.
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 or [email protected].