By Chadwick Dolgos
Coraopolis council held the line on 2021 property taxes while anticipating receipt of about $40,000 less in revenue for 2021 based on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding potential revenues.
Although cuts were made in the capital improvements and public safety portions of the $4.97 million 2021 budget adopted Dec. 9, an increase in general government expenditures is seen. The budget shows increases of 18.34% from $287,178 in 2020 to $339,856 in 2021 on this type of spending.
Most notably, there was a 34% increase in the manager salary line item which, according to Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon, will allow him to hire a part-time assistant at a $25,000 salary.
Council is also considering the purchase of a vehicle for borough management use.
“A couple of meetings ago, we talked about the possibility of getting [McCutcheon] a borough vehicle to perform his duties that he needs to perform for the borough,” Councilman Rudy Bolea said during the Dec. 9 session.
Funds are not specifically allocated for a borough manager vehicle in the 2021 budget. Council expressed no opposition when McCutcheon stated he had begun research on a potential vehicle for the borough to purchase.
The Coraopolis Police Department, with a recently renewed four-year contract with the borough, received a 9.21% increase in its budget. According to Police Chief Ronald Denbow, there was a $70,000 increase in health insurance, funds budgeted for additional workforce, and a 3% wage increase for members of the force, consistent with the contract.
With the budgetary passage, council again set the millage rate at 12.5 mills. Property owners in the borough will continue to pay $1,255 per $100,000 of property valuation. Coraopolis last increased taxes in 2014.
The spending forecast did force members to make cuts in this year’s budget, most notably in capital improvements and fire safety.
Capital improvements received a 22.41% decrease. This type of expenditure includes park renovations, street resurfacing and demolition. While funds allocated for demolition remained untouched, street resurfacing received a $37,480 reduction and park improvements weren’t allocated any funds at all, a $200,000 decrease from the 2020 budget.
The Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department has also received a decrease and will operate on a budget totaling $8,000 less than the previous year. The department will receive $5,000 less for vehicle repairs and $3,000 less for workers’ compensation benefits for volunteer firefighters.
Other areas receiving an increase in budgetary funding include health and sanitation, cultural activities and employee benefits.