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Library Funding is Line Item That Can be Sacrificed, Ross Commissioner Says

Commissioner Chris Eyster suggests that officials ask voters to pay more in taxes to continue funding Ross Township's portion of the costs of the Northland Public Library.

Ross Township should ask its residents to pay extra in taxes if they want to continue funding the , Ross Township Commissioner Chris Eyster said Monday. 

Eyster floated the idea of asking voters to cover the annual $400,000 payment to his colleagues during the township's Board of Commissioners meeting, where an ordinance for the 2012 appropriation budget was introduced. 

The proposed $15.2 million operating budget includes a 4.3 percent increase in spending over the current year's budget,

"My political thinking is it’s more important to have roads that are paved properly than a library in another municipality," Eyster said. "I would be more comfortable if there was a referendum authorizing an additional tax."

The idea was not immediately embraced by other commissioners. They postponed discussion on the topic in committee and did not raise the issue again during the regular meeting. 

"It’s not the library causing us to have a shortfall in paving," said Commissioner Pete Ferraro. "It's the general economic climate." 

Eyster has presented several ideas to the board to find more money in the budget to use toward line items the township engineer said are needed. Art Gazdik for its paving program and parks system — even if that means asking for another tax increase. 

Among Eyster's earlier proposals was one The coverage costs for the board members make up about 7.5 percent of the township's $1.8 million budget for health care.

That proposal, which has appeared on the board's public agendas each month, has not been taken up again for discussion. Eyster said Monday he expects to present a draft ordinance on the topic to the board again after the start of the new year. 

Commissioners made no further comments on the 2012 budget, which was drafted for their review in October. has not met, according to chairman of the commission Dan Kinross.

"It appears it's not going anywhere," he said about the committee in an interview after the meeting. 

Also during Monday's meeting, Commissioner Dan DeMarco, who serves on the Northland Public Library Board, asked the commissioners to consider providing space to the library in the , if space could be found. 

"I don’t want to necessarily take away from any usage if there’s high usage (of the community center rooms)," he said. "By the same token, the library is attempting to do whatever it can to bring more resources closer to the residents here. Is that a possible location?"

A report from the township manager on where space might be found and the impact on community center activities is expected at a later meeting. 

Also Monday, the board voted 5-2 to spend up to $45,000 in funds remaining from this year's paving budget toward the repair of a retaining wall behind the  at 7240 McKnight Road. 

The wall, part of "Old McKnight Road," is township property and its disrepair is threatening the business, according to Art Gazdik, the township engineer. 

The agreement drafted between Lazzaro and the township provides for sharing the cost of repairs and grants him ownership of the wall in exchange for coordinating the contracting work and future maintenance.

Commissioners Ferraro and Grace Stanko voted against the agreement. 

Commissioners Gerald O'Brien and Lana Mazur were absent Monday. 

AmyJo Brown December 13, 2011 at 05:49 PM
I'm really curious about how people are feeling about the budget and the kind of services they want to maintain and/or improve upon in Ross Township. I've combined through the 2012 draft, and though there are always choices to be made, it really is a pretty tightly crafted operating budget. I also think the engineer makes a good point about needing to look long term — costs are only going to continue increasing and help from the state and federal levels for grants aren't as easy to come by as they used to be. What's the solution? How can the local government continue to provide services we depend on to keep our communities safe and comfortable and protect our housing prices without raising taxes?
AmyJo Brown December 13, 2011 at 05:49 PM
"combined" should be "combed." :)
Darci Faiello December 13, 2011 at 06:09 PM
AmyJo, I'm curious...does the budget contain funding for the Easter Eggtravaganza, the 4th of July Parade and Fireworks, and Community Day...events that were funded through donations and sponsors the past couple of years?
Ray December 13, 2011 at 06:12 PM
looks like Martin Lazzaro greased the right person.
Paul December 14, 2011 at 03:10 PM
What a gutless thing to even consider. Raising taxes again in one of the worst economic times I can remember. We just had the millage increased. We just had the Democrats in the County Council raise property taxes 21%. Now a new tax to fund the library? These politicians can't do anything but raise taxes to pay for the budget. Who can I take money from to pay my bills? These people are a joke and need to be voted out. Also, do you notice how all these tax increase proposals all come out right after an election?
Denise Novak December 14, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Hey- guess where citizens have lost their jobs go to learn how to write a resume or look for jobs on the internet? You guessed it --THE PUBLIC LIBRARY!!! And where do kids go to get help on their homework and books for school assignments? Right again --THE PUBLIC LIBRARY!!! The Northland Public Library is a very improtant part of lives as citizens of Ross Township. It's time for the Ross Township Commissioners to stop receiving healthcare paid by all of us taxpayers. It's a part-time job people!
Conrad December 15, 2011 at 10:03 PM
My beef with County Government overall, is that it would appear that Western Pa. voters are about the most "parochial" that I have ever seen, with Pittsburgh voters in particular. We have "sowed the wind" and now we "reap the whirlwind." The cancer that was once a City of Pittsburgh problem, with their machine democrats being elected time after time has now spread to the county with the election of Fitzgerald, and before him Dan "The tax man" Onorato. Their universal panacea is to just keep raising taxes, despite the current economic situation and a shrinking population base. It's fairly obvious that there isn't one politician out there that realizes that you need to live within your means....Something that I learned a long time ago.
Conrad December 15, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Ray....You are so right!
AmyJo Brown December 16, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Hi Darci -- Yes, it does. $17,500 is budgeted for Community Day, which is half of the amount they're expecting to spend on the event, plus $7,500 for the fireworks. (Story re: that here: http://patch.com/A-mLF3). $3,500 is budgeted for the fishing tournament (photos of last year's event: http://patch.com/A-kqMm and http://patch.com/A-kskK ) $5,000 is budgeted for Fourth of July activities and parade, plus $7,500 for the fireworks. Total of $41,000. The Easter Eggtravaganza is not in the budget specifically, it looks like, although when I reported the earlier story about the community day sponsor, I had documentation that they were planning to budget $1,000 toward it. I'll see if I can clarify that (or if one of the commissioners can jump in and answer that, that would be helpful!)

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