The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 28, 2013

Council faces Act 47 debate

Manager preps tough questions

FARRELL — Farrell council members will be earning their keep in the coming weeks, as they work on a revision to the city’s state-mandated fiscal recovery plan.

“This is what you’re paid the big bucks for,” Dr. Michael Weir told council members Monday.

Weir serves as the state-appointed Act 47 recovery coordinator for Farrell and his comment during Monday’s council meeting was made in light of sometimes heated discussion at recent meetings to raise council pay – a move that ultimately failed.

Council members will earn their $250 monthly check come next month, when a special session is slated for 6:30 p.m. April 9 to discuss a revised Act 47 recovery plan.

Act 47 is the state plan for financially distressed communities. Farrell was the first municipality in the state to enter the program – in 1987 when the law was passed as the Pennsylvania steel industry was turning to rust.

During the April 9 session, council members Kim Doss, Stephanie Sheffield, Annette Morrison, Stephen Bennefield, Robert Burich and Eugene Pacsi and Mayor Olive McKeithan will be tasked with answering some tough questions being posed by City Manager Michael Ceci.

Among them:

ä Would they support an increase in the city’s income tax rate?

ä Would they support a property tax hike?

ä What city services/costs would they consider reducing or eliminating? Would those include making cuts to the fire department, street department, code enforcement, the library, recreation, administration and police?

ä Are they willing to consider discussing contracting with Sharon or Hermitage for police protection if Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department costs can’t be reigned in? Would they be willing to drop police protection altogether and use state police to respond to emergencies?

ä Do they think Farrell is a viable city or can become one, meaning it can rely upon a consistently increasing tax base to meet the costs of providing services to its residents?

ä Would they be willing to resume discussions with neighboring municipalities about shared services and or a potential municipal merger or consolidation?

How council members collectively answer those questions will affect what kind of recovery plan is adopted, Ceci said.

By adopting a hard line that includes no staffing increases, minimal wage hikes and limited departmental spending, plus gradual wage and property tax hikes, better tax collection and gradual decreases in the nonresident wage tax the city could exit Act 47 in 2018, according to a draft of the plan released by Ceci and compiled with Weir’s help.

“We’ll go over each item,” Ceci told council members. “Adjustments to this plan can be made. No one’s going to force this on you.”

The last time the plan was revised was 2006, Weir said.

Council members will need to decide whether they want to exit the Act 47 program; if not, the state Department of Community and Economic Development likely wouldn’t object, Weir said.

Twenty municipalities, including Greenville, Aliquippa and New Castle, are presently in the program, which allows them to tax nonresidents at a higher rate than the 1 percent allowed for solvent communities.

Only six municipalities have exited the program. They are: Shenandoah in Schuykill County, Ambridge in Beaver County, and Wilkinsburg, East Pittsburgh, North Braddock and Homestead, all in Allegheny County.

The revised plan should be publicly introduced in April and adopted in May.

“Then any budget will be based on this document,” Ceci said. “It will be a guide for everything we do.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 17, 2014

    Man arrested for running from accident scene

    UPMC, Southwest eyeing security at hospital

    Crashes cause diversion of Interstate 80 traffic

    Court supports prison term in chase case

    Woman gets 5-10 years in crash that killed officer

    April 17, 2014

  • Officials pledge support to sewer project

    Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.

    April 17, 2014

  • Griswold Avenue fire Neighbors tried to save victim

    As flames and thick smoke poured out of a Sharon house Tuesday evening, neighbors rallied to try and save the man who lived there alone.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman nabbed, sister sought in assault

    Southwest Mercer County Regional police have arrested a Hermitage woman for breaking into a home in Farrell and beating a woman and are seeking the alleged assailant’s sister.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite good deeds, man going back to prison

    Linda K. Kretzer had nothing but praise for Raymond C. McKelvey.

    April 16, 2014

  • 15-year-old legal battle returning to county court

    State Supreme Court has let stand a Superior Court decision sending a landmark medical malpractice case back to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    April 16, 2014

  • Southwest mulls how to adopt study points

    Even though some members of the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department had little respect for a study of the department completed by a consultant, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. pledged to implement as many of the study’s recommendations as he could.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beader plans to resign, just not yet

    Democratic Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader acknowledges that he intends to resign, but said nothing will happen until after he meets privately with the county’s judges next Thursday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wildlife fund for park Aiding Buhl Farm animals

    Some of Steven Jubelirer’s fondest memories of his mother, Natalie, was when they would walk together in Buhl Farm park, Hermitage.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • News briefs from April 15, 2014

    Man charged with attack on his wife in Walmart

    Woman arrested for stabbing man with knife

    3 injured in pickup-motorcycle crash

    April 15, 2014

  • Judge orders Marin removed from ballot

    Saying the testimony of Congressional candidate Mel Marin of Sharon wasn’t credible, the Commonwealth Court has ordered Marin’s name removed from the Democratic Party’s ballot for one of area’s congressional seats in the May primary because Marin now has less than the required 1,000 valid signatures.

    April 15, 2014

  • Fire ruled accident, but cause unknown

    The fire in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park was most likely started by workers who were gutting the building, according to a deputy fire marshal.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mertz Tower fire Mertz tenant charged with arson

    A tenant who was being evicted from her apartment because of bizarre behavior is accused of setting her sofa ablaze at Wade D. Mertz Towers in Sharpsville.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tickled reflexology and pedicure salon Crafting a new downtown

    We’ll know better five years from now what lasting impact public interest in the arts and boutique shopping had in efforts to revitalize downtown Sharon with small businesses.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Have van, need drivers to serve elderly

    April 14, 2014