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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

City Tax Hike Not as High as Anticipated

Property taxes in the City of Bradford won’t be going up nearly as much as anticipated.

The average property owner will see an increase of about $4.50 a month. They had been looking at an increase of around $10. Mayor Tom Riel says they were able to knock the millage down from 4.9 to 1.5 in the past month.

“It was kind of scary when we did the first reading (of the millage ordinance),” Riel said. “I want to commend council for their efforts working with everybody to lower that down to 1.5 mils.”

“I wish it was nothing,” he said, “but we can’t go without a tax increase every year.” He added that there has not been a tax increase for the past three years.

Eliminating the purchase of new vehicles for the police, fire and property maintenance departments is one way they trimmed the budget. Health insurance, pension costs and contract obligations were among the increases expenses they had no control over.

Councilman Fred Proper, who oversees accounts and finances, said although the formation of the property maintenance department is an added cost to the city, “we are confident that this department will improve the quality of life for the citizens of this community.” “The department will be working on a day to day basis to clean up the community and eliminate blight,” Proper added.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, council approved the appointment of Mike Spencer as a full-time probationary police officer. Chief Chris Lucco noted that Spencer is a “seasoned officer” from Laurel, Maryland, and has already gotten heavily involved in the community, heading up the 911 Express Toy Drive involving the police and fire departments.

Spencer replaces Officer Greg Boser, who is retiring.

Council also appointed Brett Butler as a full-time firefighter/EMT. He replaces Captain Matt Rettger, who is retiring.

Also, council appointed Jill Howard as deputy city treasurer.

Council authorized certificates of appropriateness to John Kohler for signs at 57 and 21 Main Street; and Jim Derx of the Kennedy Street Café for improvements to the outside of the building at 11 Kennedy Street.

Council also authorized the execution of the Emergency Ambulance Service Agreement addendums between the City of Bradford and Bradford, Foster, Corydon and Lafayette townships and Lewis Run Borough. The agreement runs from January 1 through December 31, 2017.

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