North Strabane calls for tax reduction in 2013 budget

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A decrease in the real estate tax for North Strabane Township is proposed in its 2013 budget.


The board of supervisors passed a preliminary budget Tuesday night which calls for 10.98 mills of real estate tax, a .5-mill decrease for the coming year. That amounts to about $20 in savings for township property owners.


“It’s with great pleasure that I can sit here and say that we are decreasing taxes,” said Stephen Motzer, board chairman.


The board decided it could reduce the millage since the township’s fund balance is more than $1.1 million, explained township manager Frank Siffrinn. The township is taking $218,650 from that fund balance to balance its budget.


North Strabane has a strong housing market, with between 50 and 70 housing starts predicted in the coming year and an estimated 150 additional ones in coming years. There is additional commercial development under way in the township, including three hotels planned near The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. In addition, the township expects to receive $2.7 million next year for being the casino’s host community. That money is put in the township’s capital reserve fund.


Motzer credited the fiscal responsibility of the board and past boards that have made it possible for the township to keep taxes down. The last time the township raised its real estate tax was in 1993.


One mill generates $185,800 in the $10.3 million budget. Of the 10.98 mills, 3 mills are designated for fire protection.


Total revenue sources are projected to increase by more than $401,000 in the coming year thanks to growth in real estate and resulting taxes. Siffrinn told the board the total market value of all taxable properties in the township has increased more than $20 million since last year.


Major expenditures in the 2013 budget include: public safety, $2.8 million; public works, $1.5 million; fire protection, $1 million; general government, $789,730; parks and recreation, $383,650; and machinery, $165,530.


Revenues include $1.3 million in real estate; $2.6 million in Act 511 taxes; $268,000, licenses and permits; intergovernmental revenues, $424,500; charges for services, $244,800 with a fund balance of $218,650. The township also has a capital reserve fund of $2.7 million from gaming revenue which will be used to fund $890,700 in debt service payments for its $9.7 million bond issue in 2008 used to construct Municipal Park.


The budget is available for public review at the municipal building during regular business hours.


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