This Meeting was recorded for Accuracy
Present: Ron Betts, Clark Baird, Sue Bartow, Beth Thompson, Jeffery Miller- Solicitor, Aaron Bouch
Absent: Mayor Tom Pickup
Gen Public – Kathie Bernabo, Matt LaMantia, Pam & Joe StClair, Melissa Miller
Meeting called to order 7:05 PM by Beth Thompson
First Item on agenda – Firemen’s request for various street closures for Oct 27 and Oct 28 for Fall Crawl and Halloween Parade. Beth read letter of request. Sue motion to approve street closure, 2nd by Clark. All approved. Motion carried.
Next item on Agenda- 2019 Budget
Everyone received a copy of the working budget figures. Still need to balance budget and decide where to get the funds to cover all expenses. Pat stated after she had spoken to Jeffery she moved around several items to include on Revenues and Expenses. Borough has a total of $74,507.51 in revenues coming in. With monies we currently already have on hand plus revenues coming in totals $147,861.59 General expenses total $123,918.26, public works total $11,500.00 and public safety $12,329.60, totaling expenses of $147,747.86. This budget includes our Total boat launch grant of $40,000, current police fund of $4,682.91 and Act 13 funds of $7,739.03 which is part of the police fund. We also have $17,392.03 in our engineer fund as a buffer. Jeffery asked why we call it an engineer fund instead of the capital reserve fund that we used to call it. Pat explained the fund name was change last year at the request of council because we keep engineer funds in this account.
After much discussion on the revenues versus expenses the outcome was, we would end up using all of our Engineer Fund of the $17,392.03 to balance the budget with the current expenses. Council agreed we could not cut any expenses down further. To be able to have the new garage built we need to cover an annual loan amount of $13,385.16 for a four (4) year period. This is based on approx. $98,000 project that USDA is stating it will cost. When bids go out, this may change by lowering the cost.
Jeffery asked about the TV franchise – why did that go down. Pat explained the difference from 2017 and 2018 and why the franchise fees went down.
Jeffery also asked about an increase in earn income tax. Pat explained we have younger generation of people moving in and therefore more people working so more income to come in on wages earned.
Jeffery asked about the engineer funds. Pat explained we have $2,000 for McCormick Taylor and $1,000 additional for Robson Engineers. Sue asked about engineer fees being taken from CDBG funds. Jeffery explained no but it could come from Liquid Fuels Fund.
Jeffery asked about SWIF. Pat explained because we have not had any injuries this past year it was proposed to stay the same. Our reimbursement should stay the same also from the other localities. Jeffery had no further questions.
Jeffery stated the end result is we are over by approx. $33,000 and we will be spending all our savings just to balance this year’s budget. Now I know what the problem is.
Sue brought up the Parks funding of the $2500. She was under the impression that the borough was only to fund the first year until they get on their feet and they can get a Small Games of Chance license. Jeffery stepped in and stated, we will not be getting one because the Borough is not eligible for a Small Games of Chance License. Parks can only be funded by other means of fund raising.
Sue brought up the police contract. She found in the March contract that a stipulation was stated that no raises were to be given until the yearly budget could get approved. This was not done with this next six month contract. In the new contract it showed approx. a $2.00 raise for the police. We normally change the hours for the police in the winter months.
Aaron said he spoke to New Florence Council President. We would not need to redo the contract but we could reduce the hours to 8 per week and if needed do the 16 hrs. They would be willing to work with us.
Jeffery again asked if council wanted to decrease any spending amounts. Beth and Aaron both commented they could not find any place where it could be cut. Ron also commented he could not find any other area to cut. We really have no additional areas to cut from.
Sue brought up the situation about the truck. USDA will give a grant for a new truck. Aaron wanted to know if it was a guarantee deal. Sue stated not in writing just by word of mouth. Beth stated we have to budget on $98,000 not a lessor amount. Aaron agreed.
A truck loan could come out of Liquid Fuels Fund. Jeffery agreed, however Council hasn’t even looked at Liquid Fuels Fund Budget yet.
After review of the proposed liquid fuels fund Jeffery said there is nothing there to play with either. Jeffery asked about Lear St project. It was mentioned Lear Street could not fall under Dirt and Gravel Grant, but out of the CDBG Grant. Council was not sure in what priority that project was but thought it was close to the top.
Further discussion was made on the budget shortfall. Pat brought up the cost factor from the tax records and how much the town actually receives in the spring. Jeffery was checking the code book on how many mills we can raise at one time. Jeffery said we cannot go over 30 mills.
Pat showed @ 1 – mill equal approx. $2200. Further discussion was 7 mills give us $15,400 – 8 mills gives us $17,600 - 6 mills give us $13,200 – and 5 mills give us $11,000.
Jeffery suggested to take public comment at this time.
Pam questioned tax payers and non- paying properties. Jeffery stated there are certain exemptions such as churches and utility companies. Pam wanted to know if there is someone in the County that we could ask for funds to help us out. Jeffery said no on her question. Pam wanted to know if the borough will be sending out letters to everyone to let them know about the tax increase and why. Comment was no. If the people wanted to know or showed interest they would have been at the monthly meetings or even at this meeting and chose not to.
Pat said when someone gets a reassessed property at a lower rate, so then it affects our revenue. When people tear down their buildings it lowers our revenues. It hurts us in the long run. Less revenue coming in to cover expenses and services. Pam wanted to know if there was an average household range. Jeffery stated it goes according to the property value. Everyone is different.
Jeffery asked if council wanted him to prepare a Tax Ordinance. Does Council feel the budget is pretty much as it is going to be? Beth suggested 10 mills. Matt suggested that is totally too much. It also was suggested 5 mills this year and 5 mills next year. We would still be in a shortfall. Another suggestion was to look into a possible cutting of the forest again.
Final discussion was raising taxes by 7 Mills.
Voting does not have to be until November meeting. Pat needs to change the revenue total to include the millage increase.
No other business at this time.
Motion to adjourn meeting made by Clark, 2nd by Aaron. Meeting adjourned at 8:30 PM