Shippenville holds the line on taxes

A tax hike in 2023 was mentioned as a possible solution to ease Shippenville’s financial woes. In the end, borough council unanimously voted against it.

During the discussion period prior to the recent vote, council Vice President Mike Cotherman voiced concern about the proposed increase.

“I have a huge problem with having three-quarters of a million dollars in the bank and going to our residents and saying, ‘We need more money,’” he said. “We could honestly buy a new truck, a new spreader, a new skid steer and still not be out of that money.

“I’m very hard-pressed to say we should raise taxes with that kind of money in the bank.”

However, council member Steve Brocious said a tax increase now would be a better idea.

“I would much rather see a small tax increase now instead of a larger one in five years,” he said. “I would rather be ahead of the game.

“Nobody wants higher taxes. Nobody here wants to vote for higher taxes. I think we have dodged this bullet for the past five years.”

Council President Linda Duffee pointed out once the borough would start spending the investment money, it could evaporate quickly. She said the borough’s savings account was below half of what it started with because the borough started spending out of the savings account due to necessity.

“You never live on your savings. You only use it for emergencies,” she said.

The bulk of the borough’s investment income came from the sale of the borough sewage system to Pennsylvania American Water Co. in 2015, which netted $427,000.

Brocious pointed out if the borough would need to purchase a new dump truck, plow and salt spreader, it would cost $150,000.

Borough Secretary Jacqui Blose reminded council it could finance a new truck if necessary to lessen the financial burden.

Council voted against the tax increase in part because Duffee found the CD rates being offered on the borough’s investment. When the CDs matured earlier in the year, the borough was only receiving .5% interest from Farmer’s National Bank. Duffee was able to find an investment through Janney Montgomery Scott, which would yield 4.7% interest on the borough investment.

Blose told Duffee to ensure the investments through Janney Montgomery Scott were appropriate for a borough. Under Title 8 of the Pennsylvania General Assembly Statutes, there are only certain investments a borough is allowed to make.

Council decided to have members Paul Woodburne and Michael Petronzio meet with Janney Montgomery Scott to ensure the investments are allowed.

If the Janney Montgomery Scott investment options are not up to the statutes, council was given the option to put its funds in the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, which offers a variety of investment options with returns above 3%.

The borough also discussed a request by NorthRock Construction, of Cranberry Township, to use one of the borough’s storage bays to store excess pipe.

Council took no action on the request because it believes a representative from NorthRock should attend one of the council’s meetings and make a formal request.


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