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Proposed McKeesport budget holds line on taxes

McKeesport has a draft budget of just under $19.5 million for 2011, city administrator Dennis Pittman told council.

“As of 10:30 this morning, our draft budget was balanced,” he said Wednesday.

Pittman later said it holds the line on real estate taxes, but made no promise about wage tax or other fees.

A finalized budget proposal the final one from Mayor and state Sen.-elect James Brewster before he goes to Harrisburg will go to council by Nov. 15.

Council approved PNC Bank’s offer for a $1.5 million tax anticipation note at a 2.49 percent interest rate.

The senator-elect noted tax anticipation notes have decreased by 30 percent over the past seven years, from $2.3 million.

“It’s another indication that our financial situation is improving,” said Brewster, who will take office as Sean Logan’s successor Nov. 17.

Council also approved a resolution that will bring Brewster’s McKeesport offices from Logan’s existing facility to two locations.

Speaking as a future landlord, Pittman said administrative offices will be in new city hall at 502 Fifth Ave., while constituent services will be offered in old city hall at 201 Lysle Blvd.

Logan’s staff now shares space with the local staff of U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, at 627 Lysle.

Council approved a regulated rental unit ordinance establishing license fees of $25 for having one or two rental units on a property, $50 for having three to five units and $150 for more than five.

Council took off the table and approved annexation of the 27-acre Palkovitz property to the 205-acre Renziehausen Park, a move that also extends the Charles D. Lickert Memorial Nature/Fitness Trail and will establish an enclosed dog-walking area on the property that also will be drilled for natural gas by Penneco.

“There are no covenants that affect this parcel,” solicitor J. Jason Elash said.

In short, there is nothing that can stop surface drilling Penneco proposes to do.

Elash also said rumors of the city drilling “all over Renzie Park” aren’t true.

Council also approved a $12,000 plan with Davey Tree Service for tree inventory and management in the park. The resolution will satisfy requirements set by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

Council also approved a $6,250 agreement with KU Resources to conduct a geo-technical study of sub-surface conditions associated with the placement of new lighting at the Sulphur Springs and Heatherington fields in Renzie Park.

Council voted to include the city in a low-interest mortgage program funded by an Allegheny County bond issue and administered by the county’s Residential Finance Authority.

Council also approved ordinances that vacate Merritt Alley and Martin Street. Merritt Alley will be replaced by new parking spaces that in turn will replace those Eat’n Park is losing to a flyover ramp, while Martin Street’s vacation will allow for expansion of the Elbow Room.

City Controller Raymond Malinchak continues his recovery from a recent car-pedestrian accident. In his place Laura Green is signing city checks. Green also has a new title, being moved from finance manager to city treasurer, one of Pittman’s old titles. Pittman remains city administrator and finance director.

Council president Regis McLaughlin, in his role as Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport’s chairman, said MACM will take over the Duquesne sewage treatment plant Monday.

“We will start billing (Duquesne) patrons Dec. 1,” McLaughlin said. MACM is buying the plant from Duquesne for $3.8 million.

Ninety-year-old former city controller Clifford Flegal recalled how he worked 60 years ago to put a stop sign at W. Fifth Avenue and Perry Street, after four pedestrians were killed there, including a friend of his mother.

Brewster said the city is working to restore that stop sign removed by PennDOT during recent rehabilitation of W. Fifth.

Larry Wallace, chairman of the McKeesport Action Committee Against Youth Violence, said he still seeks to turn the former YMCA gym into a boxing training facility for youth.

Wallace said he wants the gym to get 106 kids most of them gang members off the street.

The old Y along Sinclair Street is being transferred to ACTION-Housing.

Lions Club president Dan Carr presented a check for $2,850 raised during raffles at free concerts at the bandshell in Renzie Park. Council voted to erect a sign that calls attention to the fact that the concert facility also has been called the Lions Bandshell.


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