Hermitage elected officials and department heads met with Wheatland residents at the Esther H Viglio Social Hall on August 16th, 2023, at 5:30 pm as a means to provide information and answer questions regarding the impact of the upcoming merger between the City and Borough. The event was attended by approximately 50-60 individuals and marked a significant step toward future development as the Borough becomes part of the City. The meeting began with opening remarks by City Manager Gary Hinkson, setting the tone for the discussions that followed. His insights highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts to ensure a prosperous and well-prepared future for the new combined communities.
Presentations were delivered by Brett Stedman, City Solicitor; Mark Longietti, Director of Business and Community Development; and Gary Gulla, Assistant City Manager. These presentations provided insight into the inner workings of Hermitage’s government, information about the potential impact of the merger, and outlined strategies for seamless implementation. They also covered important matters pertaining to sanitary and solid waste services, residential rental properties, code enforcement, and assistance programs, including the impactful block grants dedicated to housing rehabilitation.
Following the closing remarks, department heads and elected officials engaged in one-on-one interactions with individual residents. This provided an opportunity for residents to pose additional questions, seek clarifications, and engage in meaningful discussions about the future changes that residents will experience.
The merger takes effect on January 1, 2024, and there will be several changes but a few matters that stay the same. The merger does not affect school district boundaries, so children who live in the Wheatland area of Hermitage will continue to be part of the Farrell Area School District. Additionally, the Wheatland post office will remain as will the Wheatland address and zip code. However, the Wheatland area will become part of Hermitage regarding all other matters. After January 1, 2024, city property taxes will replace the borough property taxes and property owners will experience an 80% reduction in these taxes due to the much lower Hermitage rate. Wage taxes, however, will increase some to an overall rate of 2.25%, as the Hermitage rate is a bit higher than the Wheatland rate. Trash collection will still be provided by Tri-County Industries, but at the Hermitage rate, which is a bit lower, currently. Of course, all municipal services will be provided by the City of Hermitage
A future meeting is scheduled for September 13th at 6 pm to discuss the proposed zoning map aimed at preserving the character of the community while affording future growth.