Mt. Jewett council OKs budget with tax increase

MT. JEWETT – Acting at a special meeting Sunday, the Mt. Jewett Borough Council voted 4-0 to adopt a 2012 budget that calls for a 1-mill increase in the property tax rate.Council President Chuck Paar joined with Councilwoman Linda Berry and Councilmen Don Martyna and Brett Morgan to approve the spending plan. Councilmen John Keesee, Chip Lannen and Wil Antrim did not attend the meeting. Antrim returned home recently after undergoing heart surgery at UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie.The 1-mill increase will raise the property tax rate from 6.75 mills to 7.75 mills. Owners of property assessed at $50,000 will see their borough tax increase by about $50 from $337.50 to $387.50.The tax hike is the first in Mt. Jewett in six years, according to borough officials.The additional $20,000 in revenue generated by the 1-mill increase will help pay for a full-time police officer. Mt. Jewett Police Officer Steve Hale in 2012 will be working 40 hours per week instead of 30 hours. His pay rate also is climbing from $12.53 per hour to $15 per hour. He also will receive hospitalization coverage and other benefits since he now is a full-time borough employee.Hale has worked as a police officer in Mt. Jewett for more than 13 months. He also is a part-time policeman in Kane. Matt Guthrie will continue to serve as a part-time policeman in Mt. Jewett, as needed.Paar said the 1-mill tax increase is a "fair compromise" reached by council. He said he for one would have supported an even higher tax increase to generate money for additional part-time police coverage and for the purchase of a new backhoe.Morgan, a member of council's Finance Committee, said "we run a pretty tight ship here" and would closely monitor the spending during the coming year.See full article by purchasing the Dec. 19 edition of The Kane Republican.