Municipal property tax bills will remain the same in Bethel Park, after council adopted a $28.6 million general fund budget that includes no tax increase Nov. 12.
General fund spending will increase by about 2 percent next year compared the to 2019 budget.
Council President Tim Moury said some of the major new expenses in the 2020 budget include flood control projects, park improvements, replacing older vehicles in the public works department and hiring an information technology professional.
Council passed a 10-percent property tax increase last year, mostly to recover from the June 2018 flood and to invest in new flood control projects, but Councilman Jim McLean noted that a tax increase wasn’t necessary this year.
The property tax rate will remain at 2.78 mills and that should generate about $6 million in revenue for the general fund. The 0.9 percent tax on earned income will generate about $11.7 million. The municipality also receives nearly $1 million in liquid fuels, which is generated through a tax on fuel and is used for road improvements.
The municipal police department is the largest expense in the budget, at $7.4 million. Bethel Park will also spend $2.2 million on sanitation or garbage removal; $1 million for snow and ice removal; and $1.2 million for stormwater management.
In addition to the general fund budget, council also approved budgets for the sewer fund, at $16.1 million; the capital fund, at $7.1 million and the fire department, at $1.4 million.
In another matter, council heard from Rich Pahler of Logan Road, who continued to urge council to do more to prevent flooding and to find a solution for his home. Pahler said his flood-prone house is now sinking and he claims a municipal sewer line, which runs under his property, is to blame.
“To all the residents of Bethel Park, your property could be the next one,” he said.
Councilman Mark O’Brien said municipal workers investigated the storm and sanitary sewer lines in that area.
“They didn’t find anything wrong with that pipe,” he said. “We were looking for those problems, but we could find none.”
Council also agreed to post a draft of the long-range comprehensive plan, Blueprint Bethel Park, on display for public comment. Municipal officials developed the plan after about a year of soliciting input from residents through online surveys and other feedback.
O’Brien said the municipality needs residents’ input again now that the plan has been released.
“This starts the conversation,” he said. “It’s about what can be, what might be and what should be forgotten.”
The plan is available on the municipal web site, bethelpark.net, under the Blueprint BP link.
Also during the meeting:
Miner’s Memorial Park in Bethel Park will see some major upgrades this summer.
Municipal officials hope to upgrade the playground, improve the athletic fields, repair pavilions, install new sidewalks and renovate the bathroom and concession building, among other improvements.
A $250,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development will help pay for the project. Municipal officials also expect to use about $100,000 in local funds for the improvements.
Council has prioritized park improvements in recent years. The municipality finished a major overhaul of Simmons Park on Clifton Road earlier this year.
Construction at Miner’s Memorial Park is expected to begin in the spring and all work should be finished by Fall 2020.