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City Council OK’s 2022 Budget, No Tax Increase

Home repair, vacant property assistance programs on to-do list

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
December 08, 2021
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Download the 2022 city budget (PDF reader required)

McKeesport’s 2022 budget will not include a tax increase as the city continues to focus on retaining residents, demolishing vacant buildings and encouraging business development.

“We must rebuild our tax base, improve our neighborhoods and encourage home ownership — all while continuing to find creative ways to provide the services that McKeesport residents deserve,” Mayor Michael Cherepko told council this month while delivering his budget message.

Council by 7-0 vote approved the $25.8 million spending plan, which is about $3.8 million more than this year’s budget.

Next year’s budget incorporates funds from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan as well as $4 million from the McKeesport Rising project — the proceeds from the 2017 sale of McKeesport sewerage authority.

With the $4 million, “we’re looking at (demolishing) between 200 to 300 homes, and we’re going to pave as many streets as we can,” Cherepko said. “We’ll see how far it goes.”

The net proceeds from the sale of the sewerage authority, after paying off debts and liabilities, were invested with the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, the mayor said. About $26 million is in the PLGIT fund, he said.

One set of fees will increase next year — the cost to rent most of the pavilions at Renziehausen Park will increase $25, while the cost of renting the Jakomas Blue-Top Pavilion will increase $50, to $250, Cherepko said.

McKeesport will partner with ACTION-Housing and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh to develop a roof repair or replacement program for owner-occupied homes, as well as a sidewalk replacement program.

ACTION and Rebuilding Together are already partners with the city on a program to provide home improvements and repairs, Cherepko said, but some homeowners are in need of improvements that are out of the scope of that program.

In addition, the city will offer grants of up to $2,500 to assist homeowners who want to obtain vacant lots through the Vacant Property Review Committee, Cherepko said.

The money will be used to help offset legal fees and filing costs, he said.

Read McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko’s Budget Message (PDF reader required)

McKeesport has been allocated $24.8 million from the American Rescue Plan, which the federal government has directed cities to use to address revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future infrastructure investments.

In his budget message, Cherepko said the pandemic slowed the city’s recovery in 2020 and 2021 — and, in the case of a few projects, “halted them completely.”

With the help of the ARP funds “and the resilience of our community,” he said, “I am confident we can begin to grow once again.”

“We are regaining the momentum we lost in 2020,” Cherepko said in his budget message to council. “We worked through the shortfalls in 2021, and we are ready for what 2022 has to offer.”

Originally published December 08, 2021.

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