MAHONING TWP. — Most taxpayers likely will pay the same tax rates in 2021 as they did this year. Many will pay a little bit less.

The township supervisors Monday voted 5-0 to approve the proposed tax rates and tentative $3.7 million budget for next year that shows a 6.8 increase in expenditures over the current year but keeps real estate tax rates the same and reduces to zero the millage rates for street lights and fire hydrants, which not all property owners pay.

Supervisor John Whelan explained that property owners who live near street lights or fire hydrants pay those respective taxes. Those rates, according to township records Township Secretary Carolyn Dragano provided, are .0003 of a mill for fire hydrants, and variable rates ranging from 8 cents to 24 cents for the street light levy, depending on how much of the property is illuminated.

Township Tax Collector Marlene Gunther said that while all property owners in boroughs and towns pay a street light tax, townships are different. Because not everyone has street lights, the tax is based on the illumination of specific properties.

"In fairness to everybody, the supervisors are going to drop it down to zero," Gunther said. "It ended up being assessed for too much money. This is the easiest and fairest way to fix it."

Whelan said that while the hydrant tax brought in just under $1,000, the street light tax brought in more than $8,500 in revenue a year. The township has been paying PPL $4,800 a year. The township street light fund is "overfunded," Whelan said, with a current surplus of $34,000. He said the township will use that to pay PPL for now.

Other taxes will remain at 1.588 mills on real estate, with 1.384 mills for general purposes and .204 mills for the fire fund; one-half of 1 percent realty transfer, and $52 Local Service Tax. One mill equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Township taxpayers have been paying the same real estate tax rate for at least the past six years. The then-new board of township supervisors voted in 2017 to eliminate the $10 per capita tax beginning in 2018. 

The budget includes general expenses of $1.26 million; police expenses of $1.39 million, and streets and infrastructure expenditures of $1.07 million.

The tentative budget is available for review on the township website. Supervisor Chairman Bill Lynn said residents can obtain a hard copy of the tentative budget at the municipal building. The budget must be available for public inspection for at least 20 days before the supervisors formally adopt the spending plan on Dec. 14.

In other business, the supervisors agreed to donate $250 to the Hero's Fund to support U.S. Army Reserve members at the Valley Township Reserve center and their families.

Pediatric care facility

The supervisors also heard a virtual presentation from Jenn White, vice president of Pediatric Specialty Care, which opened two weeks ago to care for "medically fragile and technology-dependent" children at its facility along Wesner Drive. 

Using an online PowerPoint presentation, White said the company has four main facilities across the state that care for children from birth to 21 years old whose families are unable to provide medical care for them at home. She said Pediatric Specialty Care is working with Geisinger and its Janet Weis Children's Hospital.

The medical day program operates Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Medical transportation is included. It also is offering a residential program.

The facility will hold a ribbon-cutting on Monday at 2 p.m. Anyone interested in attending can call White at 610-574-4299 or email her at jwhite@pediatricspecialty.com.

Dead shrubbery, vehicles

Township Zoning Officer Dean VonBlohn again warned residents to stop disposing of trees, leaves and shrubs in creeks and stormwater drains because the vegetation backs up water and could lead to flooding.

"It's a practice that has to be stopped," he said.

He also said it against the township property maintenance ordinance to keep inoperable vehicles in driveways or on the streets. He said they must be stored in a shed or a garage.

VonBlohn also reminded residents to move basketball hoops off the street and onto their grass for the winter so the snowplow won't hit them.

Plant care lauded

Supervisor Molly Shultz presented Karen Robertson, wife of Supervisor Vice Chairman Larry Robertson, with an afghan for her volunteer work planting and caring for the flowers and other plants in front of the municipal building.

"We really appreciate what she's done," Shultz said. "It's so beautiful out there."

Karen Robertson told the supervisors, "I love our community. I, and we, appreciate all that you do for the community." 

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