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October 31, 2013

Ebensburg holds line on taxes

EBENSBURG — Despite an increase of nearly 10 percent in the borough’s 2014 budget, property owners will not see an increase in their taxes or utility rates, borough officials said.

Borough Council has approved a $4.9 million budget, reflecting a significant jump from the current spending plan of just over $4.4 million.

The additional revenue will come from a capital reserve account earmarked for improvements to the sewer system, Borough Manager Daniel Penatzer said Thursday.

“We will start to reserve funds in 2014 for an upcoming multimillion-dollar sewage project, and the transfer of those funds into savings is what inflates the budget number,” Penatzer said.

With each mill generating about $32,000, the current tax rate of 13 mills will remain unchanged giving Ebensburg one of the lowest tax rates in the county, Penatzer said.

Getting by without a tax increase reflects good management in light of a host of improvements the borough has made in 2013 and plans for 2014, said Mayor Randy Datsko.

“We’re very fortunate in Ebensburg that we are able to continue to make improvements in town without raising taxes,” Datsko said.

High on the borough’s list of priorities is improvements to the sewer infrastructure, a problem that will reach into the multimillion dollars, Penatzer said.

The borough already has applied for state grants and low interest loans in the hopes funding will be approved in 2014. Work would begin the following year.

Also as part of what Penatzer termed an “aggressive campaign to improve Ebensburg,” council hopes to be able to continue its water line replacement, a $5 million initiative carried out this year.

The list also includes purchase of two new vehicles, ongoing street resurfacing and an expanded parking lot at the swimming pool, he said.

West High and South Center streets along with Rowena Drive will see a sidewalk improvement project.

Council also, in working with a visioning committee of local residents, hopes to work toward development of the old county jail, the middle school, completion of walking tours and maps, and installation of way finding signs between the Ghost Town Trail and downtown businesses, Penatzer said.

On top of all that, he said, work is continuing on his efforts to obtain state historic designation for the borough.

Kathy Mellott is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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