City eyeing possible tax reduction

October 16, 2012

There’s good news on the horizon for property owners in the city of Washington.Council members met for the first time Monday to discuss the 2013 budget that must be passed before year’s end.While there’s some tweeking to be done, council agreed that there will be no tax increase next year. And, depending how much tweeking can be done, there could be a tax reduction.The sketchy financial plan will basically mirror the city’s $12 million 2012 budget. The main difference, however, is the savings from the city’s refinancing of its $22 million debt in March and the recent announcement that the city will receive $150,000 from impact fees collected from natural gas drillers in the county.“We have about $500,000 to cut to balance expenditures and revenues,” said Susan Koehler, city finance officer. But, council agreed there should be no problem in balancing the budget while attempting to meet departmental requests, including the purchase of new protective clothing for firefighters at a cost of $67,000 and perhaps the purchase of a street sweeper and new truck for the street department.Council will meet again next week to continue to work on the new budget, which is planned for a first reading at the Nov. 5 meeting and final approval in December.“The first reading is always out of whack,” said Councilman Matt Staniszewski.Meanwhile, Mayor Brenda Davis said she’s hopeful, by working together, council can paint an even brighter picture for property owners with an almost unheard of tax reduction.“That a picture we’d all like to see through a frame,” she commented.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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