Logan Township's real estate taxes will remain at current levels in 2013, but monthly sewer rates are going up by $7.
Supervisors voted Thursday to approved 2013 budgets totaling $35.4 million, which includes an $8.92 million budget for the proposed sewer expansion project slated for construction. Real estate taxes, which were increased by 2 mills to support the 2012 budget, will remain at 14.375 mills in 2013.
Supervisors blamed the sewer increase, from $46 to $53, on unfunded mandates that are driving up the cost of sewage treatment.
"It's really not our doing," Supervisor Chairman Frank Meloy said.
Supervisor Ed Frontino said the township residents he talked with seem to understand the reason for the increase.
When township Sewer Director David Pozgar addressed supervisors in November about the proposed increase, he spoke of upgrades made to sewage treatment plants in Pinecroft, Altoona and Hollidaysburg to comply with the Chesapeake Bay watershed improvement program. All handle sewage from Logan Township property owners.
While Pozgar proposed phasing in higher sewer rates with a $4 increase in 2013, a $3 increase in 2014 and a $2 increase in 2015, supervisors unanimously agreed on the $7 increase in 2013.
"I'd rather get it over with," Supervisor Joe Metzgar said.
If the township opted for the gradual increases, reserve funds would initially be needed to cover annual expenses, but Meloy said he didn't want to use the reserve funds in case they're needed for an emergency.
The $7 increase, he said, allows the township to "meet our obligations now instead of down the road."
The budget is funded with 9.125 mills for the general fund, 4.5 mills to support the volunteer fire departments and 0.75 mills for recreation.
The budget also reflects raises between 3 percent and 3.4 percent for 11 mostly administrative non-union employees and a 2.5 percent increase for 15 employees represented by the United Steelworkers union.
The Steelworkers contract, covering 15 employees who work in the highway and sewer departments and two office staffers, also sets raises at 2.25 percent in 2014 and 2015 and at 2.3 percent in 2016.
The new contract also shifts the unionized employees health care insurance from Highmark Steelworkers Trust to UPMC. Manager Tim Brown said the change will save the township $52,826, or 30 percent of the 2012 premium, for their coverage.
The savings is more than enough to cover their salary increases in 2013, Brown said.