Montrose boro taxes go down one mill

Montrose Borough taxpayers will see their taxes go down in 2013. But not by the two mills discussed at a meeting earlier this month. Taxes will, however, go down one mill, bringing the total taxes down from 14 to 13 mills.

Council adopted its proposed $1,200,766 budget at its Monday, Dec. 17 meeting. Slight increases are budgeted for the police and street departments but the only major change from the 2012 budget is the proposed opening of a community center.

The budget passed with five yes votes and one abstention from Councilmen Randy Schuster.

Schuster said he was abstaining due to the borough’s plan of opening a community center in a building formerly used as a fitness center.

At the first December meeting, council announced its plans to utilize the borough’s impact fee revenue to open the center.

Schuster said he had reservations about the community center. He said that while the idea was laudable, he was not sure whether or not it was feasible.

“I’ve gotten multiple phone calls in opposition to this,” Schuster said and advocated for more discussion. “People think there are better uses for the money like sidewalks and infrastructure.”

“I think it’s going to be a challenge for us to manage this and to monitor it going forward,” he said.

Council President Tom LaMont said he has heard both negative and positive responses to the borough’s addition of a community center.

Councilman Sean Granahan said the borough’s actual intent was to purchase the property if the community embraces it and Act 13 money would provide more than enough revenue to run it in time.

Judy Kelly asked if the council was looking into the possibility of using the community center as a site to house a business incubator.

The Montrose Area Adult School has also expressed interest in using the site, council members said.

“There are things that make us a community and they need a physical space,” Granahan said listing the adult school and exercise classes as examples.

“But are (people) going to use it?” Shuster asked and said he expected council to get some “pushback” from those opposed to it.

With some cosmetic updates needed in the building, Granahan said he expected to be able to open the community center in the spring of 2013.

During the renovations, Granahan said council would be working with its community partners to facilitate a plan for the building’s use.

Council also heard from Forest Lake Twp. Supervisor Frank Pinkowski regarding the possibility of bringing police coverage into the township.

Silver Lake Twp. Police had been providing coverage in Forest Lake for the past three years but opted to not renew the contract after it lapses at the end of this year.

Pinkowski said Forest Lake residents liked having police coverage in the township and the supervisors wanted to continue to provide police protection.

Borough council said it would be open to discussing the option in the coming year to see if an agreement could be reached.

Council also received a letter from residents on Hinds and Kelly streets requesting signs be posted warning drivers to slow down; as well as the possibility of installing stop signs at both ends of Gary Lane.

There have been reports of motorists speeding in the area causing a hazard to pedestrians. Although the speed limit on borough streets is 25 mph, there are no speed limit signs in that area.

Police have increased patrols in the area since it was brought to their attention at the early December meeting.

Council will look into the possibility of the signage and advised police to increase its patrols of the area.

The borough’s updated zoning ordinance was also passed by council Monday night.

Consultant Carson Helfrich said the updates to the law included changes to bring the borough ordinance in line with the state’s planning codes.

Other major revisions include the reclassification of the Medical and Redevelopment Zones (hospital and Montrose Square, respectively) to Commercial.

An informational meeting may be held in January for the zoning hearing board members, council and the public to go over some of the changes but no meeting date was set.