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Tax Rate Remains Steady in Verona

Borough officials approved a final 2013 budget.

Verona residents will not have a tax increase in 2013.

During a special meeting Thursday morning, borough council approved a $1.3 million preliminary budget that keeps the tax rate steady with a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Rhoda Gemellas-Worf and Sandy Drabicki-Bell dissented.

The current millage rate is 8.0 mills, meaning a resident pays $800 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Gemellas-Worf, Drabicki-Bell and many residents in the audience urged officials to hold off on approving the budget until Jan. 31. Earlier this month, Allegheny County Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. signed and issued an official court order extending the Dec. 31 deadline to Jan. 31 for taxing bodies to adopt 2013 budgets and set millage rates due to the new county reassessments.

Many boroughs and cities—Verona included—have yet to receive certified county assessment figures, making it difficult for officials to estimate the amount of real estate tax revenue to be received in 2013.

As of right now, the tax revenue figures for 2013 are the same as those in 2012, according to borough Manager Bonnie Conway.

The two dissenting council members said they've been asking for a more detailed budget—one that includes budgeted figures for the current, previous and upcoming years; projections; year-to-date figures; and comparisons.

Drabicki-Bell passed out a sample budget from Washington Township last year. Earlier this year, officials agreed to pay $3,000 to Sarp & Co. to upgrade the computer system and accounting program at the borough building.

"I thought that's what we were going for," she said. "We ended up with the same thing as last year."

Resident Nancy Carpenter said it's upsetting that officials continued to adopt a budget that is not detailed.

"What I saw, to me, that is not a budget," she said. "I want to see what we spent last year and two years ago to have a budget that makes sense.

"It's no one person's fault. I felt a promise was made to me and that promise was broken."

Gemellas-Worf also said the budget does not reflect accurate figures, stating that the borough's $30,000 grant match for the streetscape project is missing and that there are many discrepencies within the budgeted figures.

"None of the numbers jive because we're just inserting them into a program," she said. "All I want are year-to-year comparisons.

"We have a wonderful borough with wonderful people working here. I don't understand why we can't have a decent budget overview. We should all be conscientious."

Conway said she would call Sarp to learn how to use the program to generate a more detailed document should the council request it.

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Ernie December 28, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I would tend to agree with the two dissenting voters on Council. Why can't a detailed budget be posted for the public review and comment? Isn't that a requirement of the Budget Process?? I noted in the story that an example from Washington Township was provided. You really don't need to go that far...just go to Oakmont's borough website. Their 2012 and 2013 detailed budgets are posted there for the Public to see. It definitely seems odd that Verona does not publish a public, detailed budget.
Robert Brayer December 28, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I agree with Ernie it certainly seems odd that we can,t recieve a itemized budget. I wonder if something is being kept from us. This is public information and I want to know where every single one of my tax dollars are being spent! By the way the Council meeting was held at 9:00 A: M: which made it very inconvient for those who work to attend.I also agree with Ms. Carpenter's statements. Bob.

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