The county added $52.2
million to the tax rolls this year from new construction.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. — Lawrence County residents won’t see a tax increase next year.
Commissioners introduced the 2008 budget Thursday with no increase in the county’s 5.313 millage rate. One mill of tax brings in $5,300.
Commissioners will vote on the final version of the budget Dec. 20.
The $23.9 million general fund budget is an increase of about $1.6 million, or 6.9 percent, over the 2007 budget, said James Gagliano, county administrator.
The increase comes mostly from the 3.5 percent pay increases called for in union contracts, and the same pay increase is budgeted for nonunion and management employees, he said.
Other increases for 2008 include higher utility bills and increased allocations to the county tourism agency and economic development agency in anticipation of costs those groups will incur in preparing for the new racetrack and casino expected to be built by Centaur Inc. in Mahoning Township.
Gagliano noted that the county also was told by actuaries that it must put $600,000 into the county pension fund to ensure the fund is balanced — about $200,000 more than expected by county officials.
Even with those increased costs, taxes will not increase because of increased real estate revenue and other county fees that have increased.
J.R. Hardester, county assessor, said in the past year the county added $52.2 million worth of real estate to the tax rolls because of new construction. That equates to about $250,000 extra in county taxes, he said.
Hardester said the largest new building was a storage dome built in 2007 by Medusa Cement in Wampum, Pa., which was assessed at $5 million. The remainder of the increase came from residential and commercial construction.
Gagliano said the county does have a capital improvement fund with $206,000 and an operating reserve fund with $1.5 million.
Commissioners said they expect some changes to the proposed budget, but under Pennsylvania law the overall budget cannot be increased by more than 10 percent after it has been introduced.
A taxpayer owning a home with an assessed value of $100,000 will pay $531.30 in county taxes if this budget is adopted. A person owning a home valued at $50,000 will pay $265.65 in county taxes next year.