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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No Tax Increase for City of Bradford

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director

Property taxes in the City of Bradford will not go up next year.

Mayor Tom Riel thanked the city’s department heads and City Clerk John Peterson “who did a tremendous job with the budget this year, resulting in no tax increase two years in a row in a time when most communities in Pennsylvania are seeing double digit tax increases.”

“I think that speaks volumes …” Riel added. “I think we’ve turned the city’s finances around. Contrary to what some people think, I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

“We’re not there yet,” Riel said, “but this is my seventh year on council and I think this is the most comfortable budget I’ve ever been involved in, and I think John (Peterson) can attest to the same.”

Peterson said this was his 13th budget and it was a “refreshing process to be able to go through.”

“Our department heads this year have done a tremendous job … not coming in with inflated budgetary figures for council to review,” Peterson said.

He noted that the department heads have found ways to do the same amount of work with fewer people and less money.

Peterson also said timber money is coming in at a much higher level, and that will be used for capital improvements and paying off debt on the city’s new bond.

“Although the city borrowed $5 million last year,” Peterson said, “I think it’s a statement itself that we didn’t have to raise taxes.”

Jim Evans, who oversees accounts and finances for council, said, “all the people making decisions on expenditures for the City of Bradford have been extremely professional and responsible.”

“I think we move into 2013 with a renewed sense of optimism about the City of Bradford and all that we’ll be able to accomplish,” Evans said.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, OECD Executive Director Sara Andrews explained Keystone Community Designation.

The state has changed its Enterprise Zone, Main Street and Elm Street communities programs, and combined them into the Keystone Communities Program, and the Keystone Community Designation program.

“We’re going for an umbrella designation, which would include the Enterprise Zone, Main Street and Elm Street,” Andrews said, adding that at some point down the road funding will be available.

The Enterprise Zone portion of the program also includes Bradford Township, Foster Township and Lewis Run and would allow OECD to be able to continue work in those communities for economic development purposes.

Andrews said the designation would enable OECD to apply for tax credits and other types of loan programs for the other municipalities.

Council authorized the submission of a Keystone Community Designation application to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, contingent upon the approval of Bradford Township and Lewis Run. Foster Township approved it during last week’s supervisors meeting.

The next city council meeting will be held on December 18, instead of December 25.

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