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Category: Kittanning Borough

Kittanning Borough Budget Will Not Change

(L-R) Kittanning Borough Solicitor Ty Heller, President Pro Tempore David Croyle and Borough Secretary Betty Thompson determined a rescheduled Borough meeting would have to be held Thursday or possibly Friday this week to allow council members to approve a new 2016 budget. However, union negotiations are still on-going and final figures are not available.

 

by Jonathan Weaver

The budget numbers Kittanning Borough council members agreed to advertise in December will stand through 2016.

Borough Council members were to discuss the $2.6 million budget again during last night’s regular meeting, but a lack of quorum prevented discussion on that topic or any other voting matters.

All three Finance Committee members – President Kim Fox, Vice-President Wilbur Stitt, and Chris Schiano –were absent from the meeting. It was chaired by President Pro Tempore David Croyle. Also Councilman Andy Peters was absent.

Croyle was “very disappointed” that more discussion could not be held.

“It is an important part of running this borough,” Croyle said. “I’m sad we couldn’t take action on that item as well as many, many other items.”

The four present council members originally discussed convening again at 6PM tomorrow evening, but after meeting with Borough Secretary Betty Thompson, Solicitor Ty Heller thought it best to reschedule after 48 hours to allow for the rescheduled meeting to be properly advertised.

A proposed revised budget would have had to be advertised 10 days before its adoption – which could not be done without meeting this week due to the mid-February deadline.

If a quorum was available, Council could have seen supposed-savings found in the Street Department and Codes Department, but those budgets will now remain unchanged.

Still, taxpayers will not see any tax hikes, realizing the same 27.5 mill rate as in 2015.

Council members reluctantly settled on 6PM February 9.

At last month’s reorganization, Councilwoman Betsy Wilt made the motion to reopen the 2016 funding plan – and all council members in attendance agreed with her.  And a week later, five council members unanimously approved a $250,000 tax anticipation loan resolution to aid with upcoming expenses and a projected shortfall.

Last month, Fox and Stitt also agreed that ongoing union negotiations are vital to continue attempts to revise the budget.

In addition to the budget, Councilman Gerald Shuster was also concerned about pending votes on other pressing matters. He said he has never been a Kittanning Borough councilman that had to postpone a regular meeting due to lack of a quorum.

“There are some areas to be covered that I think should not be postponed,” Shuster said. “Some of these are too critical to the community.”

Also on the agenda last night was discussion on the upcoming Fort Armstrong Folk Festival, the vacant 2nd Ward Constable position and the Floodplain Management ordinance being passed by several local municipalities

However, Heller said the rescheduled meeting will allow the ordinance to be passed on-time before the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s February 17 deadline since it has already been advertised.

A broad examination of the new maps showed last night that there is not a major change from the floodplain boundaries released in 1986.

Interested residents can see the new boundaries in Council Chambers during normal business hours throughout the week.

Kittanning Borough Borrows Big From Bank

Solicitor Ty Heller shows where Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox should sign on the dotted line during last night’s special meeting. Council members unanimously agreed on a $250,000 tax anticipation note from NexTier Bank.

by Jonathan Weaver

For the first time in at least three years, Kittanning Borough Council borrowed money to provide an infusion of cash into their budget.

Finance Committee Chair Wilbur Stitt grew frustrated when talks shifted at the end of last night’s special meeting to the re-opened 2016 budget.

“I already have a lot of time in this – I’m not going to put any more in it,” Stitt said. “Somebody else is going to have to do it.

“If you can find the money, find it. If you can’t, I don’t know what to tell you because there isn’t any left. There’s no money – we’re at the end of the road.”

Stitt and Council President Kim Fox agreed that any budget changes cannot be had until wage negotiations continue with union officials.

“It’s concerning because we can’t put concrete numbers in until these contracts are settled,” Fox said. “There are some things I think we need to go in and tweak.

“But, it’s a pretty tight budget.”

Fox was adamantly against raising taxes to balance the funding plan.

To operate the Borough until tax revenue is received, the five council members at Thursday’s special meeting unanimously approved a $250,000 tax anticipation resolution.

“None of us wanted to borrow, but it is what it is,” Stitt said.

Solicitor Ty Heller tabulated five different proposals for the as-needed financing.

“We tried to solicit from every local bank – it would appear that the lowest cost proposal is from NexTier Bank, at 1.5 percent –with the only filing fee being $84,” Heller said.

Heller anticipated funds being available in the General Fund at the earliest next week.

“We have a good relationship with NexTier Bank,” Heller concluded.

Councilman David Croyle was concerned that individual departments didn’t submit their own funding plans for 2016.

“I think we should go back to them and say ‘What can you cut? What can you do?’ rather than us trying to figure out what to cut of them,” Croyle said.

“I didn’t get anything from anybody,” Stitt added.

Fox recommended an in-house motion for each department to produce a budget – which Croyle agreed with.

After motioning to reopen the budget last week, First-Ward Councilwoman Betsy Wilt gave a proposal to elected members on ideas to minimize expenses – including with grant funding for a new garbage truck.

Members have until the monthly meeting on February 1 to address funding issues.

However, Croyle said cash flow is not the only issue. The state has failed to provide reimbursements for money Kittanning Borough paid to contractors for the beautification project on Market Street. That has left the Borough holding the bag for the payment.

Last night, Council approved another loan from NexTier Bank for $1.2 million to bridge the gap, hoping the State reimbursement comes soon. Meanwhile, Kittanning will still be responsible to pay interest on the money at a rate of 3.13%.

Croyle voiced his concern and called upon Senator Don White and local State Representative Jeff Pyle to become involved in the solution. He also felt the County, who is administrating the grant, should share more in the responsibility of seeing the money is reimbursed.

Fox said she would contact Senator White’s office to set up a meeting.

Kittanning Councilman David Croyle voiced concerns over money not being reimbursed from the State for the revitalization Project while Concilwoman Betsy Wilt passed out recommendations for improvements to the 2016 budget.