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Hollidaysburg looks to hike property taxes

Increased revenue would pay for additional police officer

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Borough Council has passed a preliminary plan to increase property taxes by 0.45 mills in 2020 to pay for a ninth police officer for the borough.

For a home assessed at $100,000, the tax increase of 0.45 mills would be a $45 real estate tax increase on top of last year’s taxes.

With the increase, the total millage, would be 3.55 mills in 2020. Last year, millage was 3.10 mills.

Councilman Jeff Ketner said there was deliberation on higher and lower increases than what the council settled on Thursday.

“We wanted another officer because investigations at the Blair County Jail are taking so much time for our officers. They are investigating physical and sexual assaults, drug paraphernalia,” he said.

The tax increase allows the council to provide $100,000 for salary and benefits of a new police officer.

He added that calls for borough police assistance with school district issues have also increased, but “the school hasn’t taken our police time us as much as jail does,” Ketner said.

Five council members were in favor of the increase and two were against it.

Brady Leahey and Mark Shawley are opposed to raising taxes by 0.45 mills. They may have accepted a lower increase, however, to allow for a police officer. Neither Shawley nor Leahey was available for comment on Friday.

With Thursday’s vote, the council made the preliminary budget available for public review at the borough office.

A final general fund budget for 2020 with the proposed tax increase is set to be voted on next month.

The total general fund budget proposed for 2020 is $3.1 million with a $63,305 deficit.

“Without the millage increase approved last night, the deficit would be $207,688, with the police officer position included. The millage increase decreased that by roughly $144,000,” Borough Manager James Gehret said.

He said the remaining deficit will either be made up by not spending money that was budgeted or using the borough’s fund-balance. Gehret said the fund balance at end the of 2018 was $3 million.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.

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