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Updated 8 hours ago
Blawnox council needs to boost revenue or raise taxes, according to an early intervention program designed by the state to help municipalities get on track financially.
Debby Grass of Dormont-based Grass Root Solutions compiled the analysis, paid for by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
“The ability to generate revenue is critical to the health and sustainability of a local government operation,” Grass said. “Currently, the borough does not naturally generate sufficient revenue to support the cost of basic services that would prevent raising taxes in the future.”
More stringent collection of delinquent taxes and expanded use of part-time police officers would help, according to recommendations made by Grass. More than $150,000 could be brought in through aggressive tax collection and establishment of a $300 flat tax on the 150 businesses in the borough, Grass said.
Borough Manager Cindy Bahn said there are five goals for long-term sustainability that include a cost-containment strategy and a technology upgrade.
She is seeking grants that could help pay for computer equipment and a better borough website, Bahn said.
Councilman Randy Stoddard supports the move to “bring Blawnox into the 21st century.”
“Our main office computer is running an operating system that is no longer supported,” he said. “We definitely need some upgrades and we will need to do them regardless of how we pay for them. If we can take advantage of the grants, it will help us tremendously.”
Grass suggested that council review fees charged by the borough for services and consider increases. That could include parking meter rates, sewer tap-in fees, recreation and sign permits and rental occupancy fees.
Revenue from fees comprises only 5 percent of the borough's income.
“This is low and should be examined,” Grass said.
Other recommendations include seeking grants to purchase cameras for police vehicles, hiring a part-time police clerk and developing a long-range paving plan. Grass also suggested that council approve money for continued staff training.
“There are significant opportunities for the future of the borough,” Grass said. “If officials continue to address the revenue problems and to engage in serious cost containment, the borough should be able to stabilize its position and to begin to plan for long-term ... improvements.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at email@example.com.
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