Mt. Oliver Council approves budget with no tax increase
December 21, 2020
In a first for Mt. Oliver Borough, due to COVID-19 precautions, the Borough Council held its December public meeting with only Mayor Frank Bernadini and Borough Manager Rick Hopkinson physically in attendance in Council Chambers while the majority of council members participated by conference call.
While observing social distancing protocols, in a unanimous vote, the council approved a $2.5M budget with no increase in real estate taxes. The 2021 Real Estate Tax rate will remain at 13.5 mills, a rate that has remained the same in the borough since 2006.
The rate remained the same due in part to an increase in the amount of real estate taxes the borough has collected in part from collections of delinquent taxes and an increase in the assessed value of properties through building permits and assessment appeals.
Staffing, which accounts for as much as 60 percent of the budget, will remain the same for 2021. The next highest percentage, 20 percent, is for contracted services which include: Auditing, legal fees, engineering, inspections, demolition and more.
Paving of Ormsby Avenue is included in the Capital Projects budget of $200,000. Other Capital projects include continuing ADA ramp upgrades and repair of the Borough Building parapet wall and façade.
The council also approved a new fee schedule for 2021.
While the majority of fees will remain unchanged for the new year, trash collection will increase from $160 to $164 per unit, per year. The borough sewer rate will remain unchanged at $7.12 per 1,000 gallons, but ALCOSAN's sewer rate will increase from $8.50 per 1,000 gallons to $9.10 per 1,000 gallons.
In other action, the Borough Council approved a payment in the amount of $25,721 to A. Folino for work completed to close out the Brownsville Road Streetscape Project Contract A: and, approved a residential handicap parking space on William Street.
Following the business portion of the meeting, Bill Miller, a borough resident on Amanda Avenue, requested a public hearing. Mr. Miller's home backs up to the Middle Way parking lot, where he and his family have been parking for a number of years.
Since the borough improved the parking lot, parking enforcement has been ticketing in the lot for those who don't put money in the meter or purchase a parking pass.
"Do you realize, for me to park my vehicles back there for one year is $6,500," he told the Borough Council. "That's a helluva chunk of change."
"We've been through this with you before," Councilman Nick Viglione replied. "I'm sorry you have to pay now, you've been getting away for years now for free."
Council members said they wouldn't be able to justify giving him four spaces without paying when everyone else in the lot has to pay.
Mr. Miller said if that was the case, he would like to see the police ticket all the cars that are parked illegally on the sidewalk in the alley. He said the parking enforcement officer isn't ticketing anyone else parking in the lot except him.
Mr. Viglione told him he could always park on Amanda Avenue instead of the lot. Mr. Miller replied there isn't parking available and he doesn't want his wife or daughter parking blocks away in Knoxville.
Council President Amber McGough said she understands parking in the borough can be a problem when some families have three or four cars.
"I don't think we'll have an answer you will like," she said. "We have improved the parking lot back there and there's a cost associated with parking back there. So, I can only say that parking on the street or somewhere else is the only option."
Mr. Miller said he would be willing to pay for permits, but that "$6,000 a year is a lot of money."
Mr. Hopkinson suggested he get two parking permits at $1,800 each and park two vehicles on-street.
Mr. Miller told them he likes to park in the lot where his surveillance cameras can keep watch on the vehicles.
Mayor Bernadini asked if the Borough could allocate Mr. Miller one or two parking spaces in the lot, similar to an arrangement Brownsville Road businesses have had in the past.
Councilman Viglione didn't think that would be practical, saying if the borough did it for him, it would have to do it for everyone.