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FALLS BUDGET SETS $16.39 RESIDENTIAL TAX RATE COUNCIL OVERRIDES 3 OF 12 SPENDING PLAN VETOES WIELDED BY O'LAUGHLIN

The average homeowner will pay $6.60 more in property taxes next year under the final budget enacted by the City Council Thursday.

The Council overrode three of Mayor Michael C. O'Laughlin's 12 budget vetoes, setting the final tax rate for residential properties at $16.39 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and for non-residential properties at $34.72.

The mayor's proposed budget of $98 million now stands at $96 million because of a $2 million reduction in expenses and revenues, which did not affect the property tax rate. The amount to be raised by taxes is $21.4 million.

By overriding the vetoes, the Council trimmed 6 cents off the tentative residential rate and 13 cents off the tentative non-residential rate as they stood after O'Laughlin's vetoes on Wednesday.

The final rates are 22 cents higher than this year's $16.17 a $1,000 for residential properties and $1.17 higher than this year's $33.55 for non-residential properties. For the average house assessed at $30,000, next year's tax bill will be $6.60 more than this year's $485.

Two Council votes to override the mayor reduced the budget by $85,000. The mayor planned to use the funds for repairs to the City Hall roof and sanding and cleaning of the exteriors of City Hall and the Convention and Civic Center.

Councilman Michael S. Gawel said both buildings should be cleaned next year in preparation for the city's centennial in 1992. Councilman Anthony J. Rendina agreed.

But, Councilwoman Barbara A. Geracitano said, "We should do what we can afford." Four other Council members agreed with her and the Council mustered the five votes needed to override the vetoes.

The only other override the Council managed was the elimination of a proposed $38,700 position of operation and maintenance scheduling coordinator at the sewage treatment plant. The item was part of the sewer fund, tax rate
y O'Laughlin
which is self-supporting, and its elimination did not affect the general fund or the property tax rate.

The Council was not able to override the mayor's restoration of the vacant $45,500 deputy controller position. The city has been trying to fill the position for two years but hasn't been able to get a qualified applicant to work for the salary the city is offering, which City Controller Patricia C. Lenhart said is not competitive with the private sector.

She said the city now has a qualified candidate willing to accept the salary. Mrs. Lenhart, who has been with the city for 39 years, said presently there would be no one to step in as controller if that were necessary.

The Council also was unable to muster the votes to override the mayor's restoration of funds for an in-house asbestos removal team, a $100,000 contingency fund, $1,500 in the city administrator's car allowance, a $29,400 maintenance position at the sewage treatment plant and a $44,250 construction engineer for the Water Department.

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