Money

MONESSEN – Residents in the city will see a tax increase in 2019, but it will not be as high as originally projected.

Council members Anthony Orzechowski, David Feehan and Lois Thomas unanimously approved a $4.1 million general fund budget that includes a 5.68-mill increase in property taxes. Two weeks ago, council was considering a 6.01-mill tax increase but decided to reduce that amount by 0.33 mills. That brings the real estate tax to 43.11 mills.

According to City Administrator/Clerk Judith Taylor, property owners will pay between $60 to $100 more in taxes this coming year.

Orzechowski was against raising taxes when council voted on its preliminary budget several weeks ago but said he reluctantly joined Feehan and Thomas to pass the spending plan.

“We wouldn’t have a balanced final budget if we didn’t raise taxes tonight,” said Orzechowski, during council’s meeting Thursday. “The bottom line is this wasn’t pretty. We went round after round on this. Things will have to change in 2019; otherwise, the city won’t be able to sustain itself. There’s a possibility that we might have to cut some services next year.”

Feehan noted that Mayor Matt Shorraw, who missed his 21st consecutive meeting, and Councilman Gil Coles, who has attended only one meeting since last February, did not participate in the budget planning process.

Also during the meeting, Orzechowski reappointed Donald Byron to a seat on the city’s redevelopment authority board, even though Shorraw sent a notarized letter to council last week stating that he appointed and issued an oath of office to Delmar Hepple to fill that position. Orzechowski said that according to the third-class city code, he has authority as deputy mayor to make this type of appointment when the mayor is absent.

In another development, Feehan told attendees that they should contact the state Department of Environmental Protection if they have any concerns about a medical company’s plans to house radioactive materials at the former Monessen municipal complex at 1 Wendell Ramey Way. Best Medical Group, a Virginia-based company that develops and manufactures radiation-measurement devices for cancer treatment, purchased the site from the City of Monessen in May 2017 and received a license from the DEP’s Radiation Protection Program to store the radioactive materials onsite. Feehan said the DEP’s decision “has nothing to do with this council.”

In other business, council:

  • Appointed Joseph Bozik, Cindy Gigliotti and Apryl Kadish for three-year terms on the Monessen Public Library Board; Catherine Tucker for a five-year term on the Mon Valley Sewage Authority; and Darryl Ray for a four-year term on the Monessen Planning Commission.
  • Approved a request from the Monessen Police Department to hire Jenna Haniotakis as a part-time police officer.
  • Reappointed the firm of Dodaro, Matta and Cambest as the city’s solicitor for 2019.
  • Approved a motion to apply for a tax-anticipation note, increasing the indebtedness of the city in the amount of $500,000 to Community Bank or Farmers Bank, for settlement in January 2019.
  • Approved a contract with Deborah Chromulak, who will provide technical services for the CDBG program on an as-needed basis.
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