City marks six years without tax hikes
By KIRK SWAUGER
For the sixth successive year, Johnstown taxpayers will not have to dig any deeper into their wallets to support the economically depressed city.
No tax increase is planned for next year’s estimated $28 million city budget, City Manager Karl Kilduff said.
The tentative budget will be presented to council Wednesday. By law, It has to be passed by the end of the year.
Keeping taxes and the budget steady despite rising costs and declining revenue has been no easy task, Kilduff said.
"It’s extremely tough to try and balance the budget year after year and maintain an expected level of services with a diminishing amount of revenue," Kilduff said.
The budget will spend $1 million less than this year.
That money, Kilduff said, was spent from a fund balance to repair City Hall and three city-owned parking garages.
The fund balance accrues whenever the city ends a year in the black.
Next year, the city expects to carry over about $165,000, Kilduff said. That will be used for other improvements, most notably repairing a retaining wall on Fairfield Avenue.
The city’s millage rate has remained steady at 36.44 since 1994. Johnstown, a third-class city by state standards, is
allowed a maximum millage of 37.
"No property tax increase for six straight years allows city residents to see we’re moving in the right direction," Councilman Brian Subich said.
"Even without raising taxes, we’ve been able to .bring the city back under financial control."
Mayor Don Zucco said a financially stable city — as the hub of the Greater Johnstown area — helps the entire region.
Now that the city is rebounding financially, he said officials can concentrate more on intergovernmental cooperation and job creation.
"I think that the course we set for the city years ago is being reaffirmed as the correct course," he said.
"The city is focused on what its core mission is: Efficient and effective delivery of’ services,", Zucco said.
Property taxes will generate about $5.2 million in revenue for the city next year, Kilduff said.
The remainder of the budget will come from income-based taxes, interest, grants, payment for services and revenue generated by departments.
"I hate to use the buzzword, but we’re trying to do more with less," Kilduff said.
"We’re hoping we can do with what we had in the past."
Used with permission of The Tribune-Democrat
The Tribune-Democrat, October 24, 1999Kirk Swauger is a feature writer for the Tribune-Democrat
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