Portage council holds line on taxes, votes down mini-casino – TribDem.com

PORTAGE – A proposed 2018 budget won’t require any tax increase for Portage Borough residents, despite anticipated increases in health care and blight mitigation expenses.

“We have a frugal borough manager and administrative assistant that check everything and stay on top of things,” Borough Council President Sharon McCarthy said.

“That’s why we don’t have a tax increase.”

If approved at a special meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18, the 2018 budget will mark eight years without a tax increase in the borough, Administrative Assistant Michelle Claar said.

The $1,005,792 general fund spending plan calls for a 2 percent pay increase for all employees and covers an average health care rate increase of 12.9 percent.

Council unanimously gave preliminary approval to the budget and a 17-mill real estate tax rate without discussion Monday. State law requires the proposed budget be available for review for 10 days prior to final approval.

A half mill of the total is designated for fire protection.

Council also approved garbage collection rates of $14.30 a month, or $31 for 10 pre-paid bags. The rates did not increase.

McCarthy said the Portage Water Authority may be considering a water rate increase. She asked councilman and water authority member Jerome Yetsko if there would be an increase, but Yetsko said he couldn’t speak for the whole authority board.

“I think the people of Portage ought to have a break,” McCarthy said. “I don’t like that.”

The authority will meet on Thursday, Yetsko said.

In other matters, council voted 4-2 to ban mini-casinos in the borough in response to a new law expanding the state’s gambling industry.

Under the legislation, 10 new mini-casinos will be established in areas where casinos have not been built.

Solicitor Michael Emerick said municipalities have

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