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Zelienople proposes $12 million budget with no tax increase

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Water increase considered

ZELIENOPLE — Borough council is proposing just over a total $12 million budget for next year, with a $3.8 million general fund budget.

“We tried to really hold the line as far as keeping the dollar amounts low and consistent with last year’s budget,” borough manager Andrew Spencer said.

While residents will not see a tax increase, according to Spencer, the water fund has budgeted for an up to 3% water rate increase.

Spencer said the borough would attempt to absorb any increase from its water supplier, Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, using emergency reserves but had budgeted for it just in case.

Borough council would be required to vote on the rate increase ahead of any change, according to Spencer.

“It could be up to 3% — if we had to,” he said. “But we were very sensitive to inflation and the pressures that are on our customers.”

To that end, Spencer said there was “no electric rate increase being proposed.”

“The borough has a good, long electric contract — a stable electric contract — so that’s not in here,” he said.

Just over $2 million were also budgeted for capital improvement projects in the borough, with approximately half the funds dedicated to “streets” initiatives.

Spencer said the $600,000 cost of a stormwater retention facility project near the community park will be covered jointly by the county’s Municipal Infrastructure Program grants and the Infrastructure Bank Program. The roughly $385,000 remaining in “streets” projects will include a roof replacement for the public works building, as well as street paving and curb reconstruction.

Approximately $743,000 of capital improvement project funds were reserved for upgrades to the boroughs electric infrastructure.

“We have to make system improvements on some of our feeder lines and some of our underground work,” he said. “We have aging underground in the borough, so we’re starting a program to replace some of that.”

An additional $57,113 of the capital improvement funds were dedicated to the purchase of three new patrol cars for the Zelienople Borough Police Department as well as payments for a patrol car purchased in 2021.

“So we do have projects we’re going to do, but we really tried to hold the line on the operating budget,” Spencer said.

He reiterated the borough’s finance committee “tried very hard not to do anything to cause more inflation pressures” on residents.

“No tax increases, and no fee increases either,” Spencer said. “Just the water, possibly up to 3%, but we’re going to try our best to manage the budget to avoid that.”

The 2024 budget will be brought to council to be approved at the next meeting, Dec. 11.

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30, to reflect a total budget of $12 million. A previous version of this story reflected the general fund budget.

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