By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
SLIPPERY ROCK —
Property taxes in Slippery Rock are going up next year, when residents can also expect a potentially extensive traffic study of borough streets.
The 2013 budget of $1,165,806 was unanimously approved Tuesday. Council Vice President Christy Tichy was absent.
Real estate taxes will be 21.875 mills, an increase of 2 mills from this year's rate of 19.875.
Taxes last went up by 1.5 mills in 2004; one mill brings the borough $19,509.
Council previously decided the tax hike was needed to cover the $40,000 cost of hiring a full-time patrolman for the short-staffed police department. They also plan to hire a few part-timers.
The only public comment Tuesday came from resident Bob McComas, who asked council to not include a $1,000 allocation in the budget for Slippery Rock in Bloom.
It's not appropriate for the borough to give money to a service club, he said.
Council in November had questioned whether it was legal to earmark funds for Slippery Rock in Bloom, a non-profit organization that works to beautify the borough.
They're still waiting on some legal advice, and council member Royce Lorentz said the borough doesn't have to spend that $1,000 if it isn't allowed to go to Slippery Rock in Bloom.
Council had several lengthy discussions at past meetings about contributing to non-profits and decided to give $3,000 to the Slippery Rock Community Library, a $2,000 increase over this year to help with its $400,000 goal to build a new facility.
The Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Company will receive $23,000, about $1,200 more than this year. The department is also raising money for a new building but borough funds go toward general operating costs.
In other business, council is planning for a borough-wide street study and they are preparing to put together a proposal for the borough engineer on what roads they'd like to see improved.
Council member Itzi Meztli said he's concerned about the traffic flow in the neighborhoods surrounding Slippery Rock University, especially because of one-way streets and areas where sight distance is poor.
Councilor Ron Steele, also president of the fire company, said he's noticed a lot of traffic jams at Main Street and Kiester Road and that emergency vehicles also need to be considered in the study.
Lorentz and Meztli agreed council needs to pin down the cost of a traffic study before telling the engineer what streets they want examined.
Council President Dave Miller cautioned this kind of study has to be a "precursor for action," not just data to have on hand.
Council should also have some suggested changes at the ready to go along with the list of problems they identify, like whether certain one-way streets should be changed to two-way, he said.
"We need to specify the outcomes with desires," Lorentz said.
A major concern is maintaining traffic flow to get people in and out of town in a timely manner, council member Jerry Heller said, with Mayor Ken Harris adding some of that might be resolved when SRU opens a new entrance to campus on Innovation Drive.
Maybe some streets need widened because they were originally designed for horse and buggy traffic, making turns difficult for large vehicles, Steele said.
"It doesn't make much sense now," he said.
Council meets next at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, when they're expected to form a traffic study committee and decide what roads they'd like to see studied.
Published Dec. 15, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St.