Cranberry sees 2022 budget surplus

November 19, 2021 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — Cranberry Township's proposed budget for 2022 marks a return to a planned surplus, rather than the deficit for which the township budgeted in 2021.

The $22.2 million preliminary budget, which will be considered Dec. 9 by the board of supervisors, includes a roughly $200,000 surplus for the year, and does not impose any tax increases on residents.

Cranberry's budgeted surplus comes primarily as a result of a return to pre-pandemic tax collections, mainly via collection of Act 511, or local income, tax. Next year will also mark the first year during which the Westinghouse properties will be on the tax rolls after the electric company received a 15-year property tax abatement. The Westinghouse properties, township manager Dan Santoro estimated, will likely contribute about $200,000 — or less than 1% — toward the township's budgeted revenue.

Despite the income tax return to roughly 2019 levels, Santoro said Thursday that the township continues to receive a lower amount of local services tax — the $1 per week tax that employees who are located in Cranberry pay — and mercantile tax, the 1 mill charge on gross receipts by companies in the township.

As a result of the decreased revenue from those streams, Santoro said the township has budgeted income from those specific line items, which comprise roughly $3 million of Cranberry's revenue. Santoro said he doesn't expect the mercantile tax to remain low, as the taxes being paid this year are based on last year's gross receipts, which were heavily affected by COVID-19 and business shutdowns, but added it's better to be conservative with revenue estimates.

Cranberry also received $1.65 million from the federal government as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act, of which it has budgeted $1.3 million for capital improvements in 2022. The budget identifies these expenditures only as “sewer, water, storm water infrastructure projects.”

Santoro said the township has some ideas in mind for specific projects on which to use the Rescue Plan funds, but added Cranberry wants to see which, if any, changes Congress will make to how that money can be expended.

In late October, the U.S. Senate passed the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, expanding the scope of use for Rescue Plan funds to include transportation and other expenses. It currently awaits passage in the House.

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Alex J. Weidenhof

Alex J. Weidenhof