WARREN, Pa. – While the tax increase City Council eventually settled on Monday occupied the bulk of budget discussions, it wasn’t the only thing.
Before taxes were discussed, Council agreed to remove $175,000 from the budget slated for improvements at Crescent Park. Councilman Christian Zavinski made a motion to remove the expense to hold the line on taxes.
“It’s my intention to not raise taxes this year in the city,” Zavinski said. “It’s a great idea this project, but is it worth raising taxes? I think more people would rather not have their taxes increased and push this down the road.”
Councilman John Wortman, who had been staunchly opposed to a tax increase throughout budget discussions, agreed.
“Crescent Park is something I was super excited about doing,” Wortman said. “But in this time of economic hardship . . . we have a lot of people struggling. As much as I want this park, I don’t think it would be responsible at this point to raise taxes for it.”
The motion passed, 4-3, with Phil Gilbert and Mayor Maurice Cashman joining Zavinski and Wortman in voting for removing the project. Councilmen Greg Fraser, Paul Giannini and Doug Hearn voted against it.
That wasn’t the end of discussions over $175,000.
The $175,000 slated for Crescent Park had originally been part of the Department of Public Works budget. Once Council passed the tax increase, Fraser made a motion for $175,000 of the additional tax revenue to be reserved for Public Works.
“Public Works has said it could spend $1 million a year and not keep up,” Fraser said. “They’re underfunded, year after year after year. Putting $175,000 back in their budget, that’s a token of what they need.”
In the motion, Fraser specified that the extra money would be “for paving or other budgeted items, exclusive of park improvements.”
Wortman made a motion to amend Fraser’s motion to give the money back to the Crescent Park project. The amended motion failed, with only Gilbert and Giannini joining Wortman in favor of giving the money back to the park project.
Fraser’s motion to put $175,000 of the additional tax revenue into Public Works passed unanimously.