Preliminary New Kensington budget holds line on taxes |

Preliminary New Kensington budget holds line on taxes

New Kensington property owners won’t be experiencing a property tax increase next year.

Council gave preliminary approval Monday night to a $7.1 million spending plan that holds the property tax rate at 27.03 mills.

The budget will be posted in city hall for 20 days. Council plans to give final approval Dec. 14.

“We’re trying to do more with less,” Mayor Thomas Guzzo said. “Every city in America is in our same predicament, only some are in worse shape. There will be people here who will have additional responsibilities that they’ve never had.”

For instance, Rob Domain, public works director, will be retiring at the end of the year. The city plans to reorganize the department with at least one fewer employee.

There are about 65 employees overall on the city payroll.

The biggest expenditure will be for the police department at $2.7 million — almost 40 percent of the budget.

One increase will be in workers’ compensation payments, where expenditures will rise from $127,000 to $186,000.

“We can’t look three or four years down the road anymore,” said Councilman John Regoli Jr. “Council needs to think ‘out of the box’ about bringing in revenue to the city.”

One bright spot will be electrical service.

Council approved a four-year agreement with Constellation New Energy Co. for service at 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour. The city now pays 7 cents per kwh for power for street lights and traffic signals.

About $244,000 will be budgeted for electricity. The power supply rate was negotiated by the Pennsylvania League of Cities.

In other business:

• Solicitor James Kopelman said his review of the Verona ordinance regarding absentee landlords passes constitutional muster.

The ordinance includes a stipulation that a property owner living outside a 15-mile radius of the borough must hire a property manager who lives within the radius.

Tenants must also supply a Pennsylvania driver’s license or federally issued photo identification.

Council gave no timetable as to when a similar ordinance may be considered in New Kensington.

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