In a 4-1 vote, Cranberry's board of supervisors officially adopted a 2012 budget that includes in real estate taxes.
Supervisor Dave Root voted against the finalized budget, which includes $16.5 million in expenditures. Real estate tax rates will jump from 10.65 to 13 mills. On average, homeowners will pay an annual increase of about $64, township officials said.
Most of the revenue generated by the tax increase will be distributed to several funds. The will receive the proceeds of 0.25 mills, as will the
Taxes generated by one mill will be used to create a public buildings fund, and taxes from 0.85 mill will be directed to the road maintenance equipment fund.
“It’s very transparent,” Supervisor Mike Manipole said of the budget. “It’s very great to look at a budget and be able to know pretty much to the dollar where that money is being spent.”
When he compared Cranberry's expenditures with those in budgets for neighboring communities, Manipole said he found the township offers residents the clearest sense of where its revenue is to be spent.
Manipole blamed inflation for making much of the millage increase necessary. He called Cranberry a leader across the state for demonstrating creativity in finding grants and other options to pay for projects.
“There’s not a person up here who wants to raise taxes,” he said.
Root, however, said he believes officials could have found ways to cut costs without raising taxes. The former Navy fighter pilot — who also voted against the preliminary budget — said he found ways to balance similar tough budgets while still serving in the military.
“Even though it seemed untenable, [and] it seemed like we could not surmount this problem, when push came to shove, we always found ways to get there,” he said.
He suggested cutting personnel and trimming $95,000 spent annually on the clubhouse at the
He also proposed that supervisors give up their yearly stipend of $4,000 each. At the meeting, he signed paperwork to forgo his stipend, which in the past he has donated to charity.
“There are ways to do it when you are forced to do it,” he said. “I didn’t think we had enough forcing function here.”
Several community members also spoke out against the tax increase. Dan Page suggested the township hold off for a few years on building -- along with buying the land required to build them -- and use those funds for maintenance issues on existing roads.
Manipole and Supervisor Dick Hadley agreed that road repairs could not be postponed and would cost more in the long run because of deteriorating road conditions and rising inflation rates.
James Wood also pleaded with officials not to raise taxes.
"For those that I see come through the door of my shop that are less fortunate — the elderly, the poor, the retired, our veterans and those of us that work two or three jobs, those that don’t have much — I beseech you,” he said. “Don’t raise the taxes."
Supervisors voting in favor of the budget said the increase was needed to ensure Cranberry remains a lucrative and attractive place for both residents and outsiders.