Tax hike on tap?
COAL TOWNSHIP - Coal Township commissioners are set to vote on a 2014 budget this week that would increase property taxes as much as $130 and occupation taxes as much as $127.
Chairman Craig Fetterman stressed Tuesday that the spending plan will most likely contain changes when it's approved at a meeting at 3 p.m. Friday, but the tentative approval given Dec. 12 calls for a nearly 20 percent increase in real estate millage and an 85 percent hike in the occupation tax.
Fetterman previously said soaring health care costs represent approximately 25 percent of the proposed spending plan.
Depending on the type and location of a home, the real estate tax increase could range from $18.03 to $130.73 based on millage rising from 17 to 20.5 under the tentative $2.9 million budget. Occupation taxes could rise anywhere from $42.50 to $127.50, depending on the type of job, as that assessment rises from 115 to 200 percent.
One mill is equivalent to approximately $43,000 in collected tax revenue, so the tax increases are expected to generate approximately $257,500 in revenue.
The 2013 budget of $2,758,017 included a 2-mill increase in real estate taxes that generated $86,000.
Township manager Rob Slaby said real estate taxes are determined by multiplying a property's assessed value by the number of mills taxed. He cited an example of homes to explain the potential increases.
- The owner of an average larger single home in outlying areas of the community with an assessed value of $37,350 is currently paying $634.95. That will increase $130.73 to $765.68, based on the proposed millage increase.
- The owner of an average row home or half-double in town with an assessed value of $5,150 is currently paying $87.55. That will rise $18.03 to $105.58 under the proposed millage increase.
- The owner of an average single home in town with an assessed value of $7,500 is currently paying $127.50. That would increase $26.25 to $153.75.
Slaby said occupation tax is determined by multiplying an occupation's assessed value by the percentage taxed.
He noted unemployed, disabled and retired residents do not pay an occupation tax.
He cited a variety of jobs in explaining the potential increases.
- Part-time workers, custodians and receptionists, who have an assessed value of 50, will see their occupation tax rise from $57.50 to $100.
- The occupation tax for laborers, truck drivers and beauticians, who have an assessed value of 75, will increase from $86.25 to $150.
- The occupation tax for teachers, small business owners and registered nurses, who have an assessed value of 100, will increase from $115 to $200.
- Attorneys, doctors and engineers, who have an assessed value of 150, will see their occupation tax rise from $172.50 to $300.
Police costs rise
Slaby said the total projected cost for the police department in 2014 is $1,405,141, including $40,000 for fuel, $50,000 for insurance (liability, auto, workers' compensation, etc.) and $340,000 for fringe benefits (health, dental, vision, life and disability).
This year's total cost for police is $1,297,759.
The police department has the biggest expense in the budget. Other major expenses include $753,750 for benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance, Social Security and the township's share of unemployment insurance, and $533,625 for the street department.
Medical insurance alone will rise from $567,000 to $632,000 and workers' compensation for firefighters will increase from $33,000 to $50,000 in 2014.
None of the commissioners receive health care benefits from the township.
Tax rates approved for 2014 include 1/4 mill for the library, 1/2 percent for earned income tax, 1 percent for realty transfer tax, $5 per capita tax, $52 in local services tax, 200 percent occupation tax, 1 1/2 mills for business privilege tax, 1/2 mill for pension fund tax, 1 mill for fire protection, and 20.5 mills for the general fund.