Grant group

Harry Funk/The Almanac

From left are Peters Township council members Frank Arcuri, Gary Stiegel Jr., Monica Merrell, chairman Frank Kosir Jr., Robert Lewis and David Ball; state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Upper St. Clair; Peters Township School District Superientdent Jeannine French; assistant township manager Ryan Jeroski; and Thomas McMurray, Peters Township School Board president.

With the expansion of Peters Township Fire Department and development of a new municipal park on the horizon, the possibility has been mentioned of an increase in the township’s real estate tax rate.

That won’t occur in 2020, as the preliminary budget for next year calls for the rate to remain at 1.622 mills, according to information presented at township council’s Nov. 25 meeting.

“I can’t answer the question as to whether or not there will be a tax increase in 2021. All of that has to do with the program that will be developed as we go through this same type of process next year,” township manager Paul Lauer said about developing the budget, “and what council wishes to do in terms of implementing the wishes and desires of the people of the community.”

“I can tell you this,” he continued. “It always starts with the same charge, is try to be able to put the budget together in a way that there isn’t a tax increase. And we’ve been able to successfully do that this year.”

A major expenditure for 2020 is construction of Rolling Hills Drive, the access road that will bisect the municipal and Peters Township School District halves of the former Rolling Hills Country Club. The district is paying for 50 percent of the project, which also includes construction of a signalized intersection and repositioning of part of East McMurray Road.

Helping the cause is a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multimodal Transportation Fund, which is set up for the development, rehabilitation and enhancement of transportation assets. State Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Upper St. Clair, attended the council meeting to present a ceremonial check.

Lauer complimented assistant township manager Ryan Jeroski, on his job of drafting the application for the grant, while also acknowledging Mihalek’s role:

“The fact of the matter is, the only reason that Peters Township is in receipt of this grant is the efforts of Rep. Mihalek. Without that advocacy from our state representative, that money would not be available to you.”

The preliminary budget also calls implementing for the first phase of construction on Rolling Hills Park, which has a master plan that features numerous amenities, including a community aquatic center. According to Lauer, initial work “will concentrate on developing the infrastructure to support future park development,” with a maintenance building, restrooms and picnic shelters among the early projects.

Regarding an aquatic center, the budget includes an appropriation for design work next year.

“The request for proposals for this project will be issued in the spring, after bids have been opened for the Rolling Hills Park Phase 1 construction project,” Lauer’s preliminary budget message states. “It should be noted the commitment to design an aquatic facility is separate from a future decision as to when this project will be built.”

Another future expense looks to be construction of a third station for the fire department, primarily to improve response time to newer homes in the eastern part of the township.

According to information presented at council’s Nov. 18 workshop meeting, cost estimates are between $2.5 million and $3 million. The 2020 preliminary budget, though, includes no money for that purpose.

A summary of the spending plan shows $23.1 million in revenues and $33.3 million in expenditures, with the disparity mainly attributable to the township’s proceeds from a $10 million bond issue.

The document is available at www.peterstownship.com.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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