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Residents hear pitch to raise taxes to fix streets

November 18, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Sixteen Waynesboro residents heard Borough Councilman Dick George explain why the borough has to raise taxes by up to 3 mills to fix streets that have been neglected for years.

The information came at a public hearing Wednesday in which George, chairman of the council's street committee, said many borough streets "have reached the critical need time. "We must begin reconstruction and overlaying (resurfacing)."

He named Second Street, Park Street, Ridge Avenue from Cleveland Avenue to Third Street, Walnut Street to Third Street and Myrtle Avenue as those in the worst condition.

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"No one wants to hear bad news, but we have to take steps now," George said. "Sometimes someone has to bite the bullet."

According to a street committee report, 46 percent of the borough's 97 streets need total reconstruction. Another 20 percent need immediate resurfacing.

George estimated that 2 to 3 mills will have to be locked into the borough's budget over the next 10 years dedicated strictly for street repairs.

One mill, which represents $1,000 of assessed property value, brings in about $55,000 a year. Each mill would cost the owner of an average home in the borough from $14 to $16 more in taxes per year, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

"The cost of not doing this now is to continue to add streets to the reconstruction list," George said.

He gave as examples the cost of reconstructing Cumberland Valley Avenue from Main Street to King Street at $161,000 and Park Street west from Ninth Street to the southern end of Park Street at $214,000.

In addition, property owners on streets that are reconstructed would have to bring their sidewalks and curbs up to borough standards at their own expense.

"The council was abiding by the wishes of the citizens not to raise their taxes. Now we have no choice or it will become so costly in the future that we can never begin to catch up," George said.

"We did what we could with what we had," Council President Charles "Chip" McCammon said.

The proposal won the blessings of every council member and Mayor Louis Barlup.

A dozen or so members of Citizens for Sane Development, the group that opposed the Rutter's gas station to be built on the corner of West Third and South Potomac streets, came to the meeting to support the council's plan to repair streets.

Roy Tressler, of 121 W. Third St., spokesman for the group when it opposed the Rutter's plan, urged the council "to move forward. It has to be done. Let's not do nothing at all."

George had originally proposed a bond issue to pay for the work, but the council has since learned that the $9 million estimated cost is not enough to entice buyers.

Council members gave no indication when it would put a financing plan in effect. The members are in the middle of 2005 budget talks.

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