By Mary Grzebieniak
There will be no tax increase in Mahoning Township in 2011. Supervisors unanimously passed a budget that includes a $163,500 general-fund figure, about $10,000 higher than this year.
In 2010, supervisors passed a budget with an anticipated $27,000 deficit. But Supervisor Vito Yeropoli said Tuesday that due to cutbacks in salt, overtime and supplies, the township actually will finish this year with a $1,400 surplus.
Also Tuesday, supervisors accepted a new two-year contract with the road workers’ Teamsters bargaining unit, which includes a 3 percent raise in each of the two years.
Approval is contingent on township Solicitor Louis Perrotta reviewing and approving the contract. Supervisor Gary Pezzuolo said the workers’ wages were frozen this year.
Greg DelPrincipe of RAR Engineering, which is overseeing the Hillsville-Edinburg sanitary sewer project, told supervisors that if there is a signed letter of commitment to build the proposed racetrack and casino in Mahoning Township by Feb. 15, the chances of obtaining PennVest funds in the next round of funding will be much better.
He said after the meeting that the township has received $16 million so far for the ongoing sanitary sewer project, including a $10 million loan at 1 percent, a $1 million PennVest grant and a $5 million “H20” grant.
However, the project is still short $6 million just to get it across the river and to Skyhill.
The township is applying for the $6 million and will ask for even more if the proposed racetrack-casino comes in. DelPrincipe said such economic development would make the township’s application stronger.
In related business, Perrotta explained that the township decided not to file objections to the apparent high bidder for the racino project, American Harness Tracks LLC, even though the supervisors authorized such action at a Dec. 2 special meeting. Perrotta explained that the decision is based on several reasons, including the amount of money it would take to pursue the case, the low likelihood of prevailing, the fact that Centaur, the original project developer, had paid $300,000 toward a tap-in fee, money which Centaur has not asked to be returned and which has been applied to township expenses connected to the project. Perrotta added, “It is also not a good practice to sue your potential new neighbors.”
Things seem to be working out to the township’s benefit with the announcement Monday that American Harness had won the bid and is negotiating with another bidder, Merit Management of Chicago, to try and develop and locate the “racino” here.
Supervisors accepted Chairman Don Dougherty’s resignation from the Township Planning Commission after 18 years, with thanks for his service.