Plum Officials Consider Implementing Storm Water Management, Fire Fund Fees
The fees would amount to a total of $7 per month to help fund infrastructure projects and fire department needs.
Plum residents might have to pay monthly storm water management and fire fund fees beginning next year.
At borough council's Dec. 12 voting meeting, officials will decide whether or not they will implement a monthly $6 storm water management fee for infrastructure projects, such as road maintenance, and a monthly $1 hydrant fee to put in the fund for borough fire departments.
At council's workshop meeting earlier this week, borough manager Mike Thomas said officials have reduced funding for road maintenance in recent years to avoid a real estate tax hike for residents.
Thomas said stormwater management accounts for 50 percent of the public works budget.
"It's not just a Plum issue—it's becoming a huge burden all over the country," he said.
"There's no revenue associated with that. You have two choices—you take away from other places or you increase taxes. There's only so much money to move around."
The money coming in from the stormwater management fee would be used exclusively for infrastructure, meaning less money would have to be taken from other accounts to fund those projects, Thomas said.
Officials also have been taking money out of the fire fund—used to pay for fire department equipment and apparatuses, insurance, hydrant and water service, worker's compensation and more—to balance the general fund budget each year.
The fund had a little more than $180,000 in 2008 and has been reduced to about $26,500 this year.
Implementing a hydrant fee would give the borough about $65,000 to pay for hydrant and water maintenance.
Ira Helfer, president of the Unity Volunteer Fire Department, said implementing the fire fund is crucial to the survival of the local fire departments.
Unity was in line to receive money to buy a new truck next year, however that has been pushed back.
Helfer said if the hydrant fee is imposed, the department most likely would be able to get a new pumper in 2016. If not, that would get pushed back to 2022.
"There's no way we can afford to buy one on our own," he said. "We can't wait until 2022. I don't even know if we can wait until 2016.
"If you don't do something soon … our equipment is going to be antiquated. We're going to be running some of the oldest equipment in Allegheny County."
The department currently is down to one pumper after an engine blew earlier this year, he said. The department's current first-line pumper is from 2000.
Councilman Charles McMeekin said it's not right to impose this fee at this time.
"No matter what way you put it in the bag and pull it out, at the end of the day, it's going to be a extra tax," he said. "In 2013, we're going to be on a collision course toward destruction, but I don't know that $7 is going to cause the ship to right itself at this point."