Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 13, 2002, Altoona, Pennsylvania sr.i Wednesday, February CITY OF ALTOONA Altoona Mirror Page AS City tax rate Excess general millage beyond the state limit of 25 levied by ,the City of Altoona since 1991: 1991 "1992 1993 1991 1995 1996. 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 City granted permission for excess millage Mirro; graphic by Tom Worthfngton II BY WILLIAM KIBI.ER Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG Altoona officials were in court Tuesday for what has become an annual ritual: getting permission to exceed the state's 25-mill standard limit for general-purpose property tax mill- age. The city will assess an additional 2.5 wills in taxes for 2002, the same additional millage as last year, about to help balance a million budget. The millage amounts are half the excess obtained for 1998-2000 when the city was at the state's maxi- mum of 30 mills for general pur- posed. It didn't take long Tuesday for solicitor Boh Alexander and City Manager Joe Weakland to convince Judge Hiram Carpenter to hand down the order. If the judge had denied the re- quest, the city probably would have needed to lay off 18 employees to make ends meet, Weakland said, adding that such lay offs would mean a major reduction of city services. If some City Council members had their way in January, after they reopened the budget, the millage request would have been higher. They wanted to raise taxes to generate more than the miniscule surplus predicted for the end of the year to help offset the more than million operating deficit predicted for 2003. There was a similar operating deficit this year, but a beginning surplus of and a windfall transfer of from the work- ers' compensation self-insurance fund helped offset it. As promised at the end of last year, council members have begun to work on programs such as i-ental inspection and trash con- tracting to help balance the budget and solve thorny problems. The programs would include fees to cover all costs while helping reduce the need for expensive ser- vices elsewhere. The city can cover shortfalls by "borrowing" from the following year's income but continuing deficits accumulate year to year, making that, practice difficult to sustain for many years, Weakland said. The court's role is not to act as a "super council" or to usurp the council's decision-making authori- ty but to confirm that 'the council didn't avoid making.the decisions, Carpenter said in grant- ing the city's petition. Mirror Staff Writer William Kiblercan be reached at S49-7038 or EXTENDED HOURS! SHOP WEDNESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY 9 AM -10 PM I STARTS WEDNESDAY 9 AIW PLUS 4 DAYS ONLY-12 BONUS COUPONS! 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