by Jonathan Weaver
At the continuation of their special meeting, Ford City Borough Council members agreed on a tentative $7.5 million budget.
But, the $2 million General Fund had at least one major cut: the public safety budget.
The 2014 budget had nearly $515,000 allotted toward public safety, but that budget was cut by more than 40 percent to less than $292,000 in the 2015 tentative budget.
The 2015 allocation for part-time police officers was cut nearly $88,000 – down to less than $39,000.
This is Borough Mayor Marc Mantini’s eighth budget
“I’m going to look at it and make sure that it’s correct,” Mayor Mantini said. “This is ridiculous – how do you schedule them if you can’t pay them?”
With slightly-more than $161,000 allocated for full-and part-time police salaries, Mayor Mantini was concerned how many police officers would remain employed in January. There are currently two full-time and 12 part-time officers on the roster.
Council President Kathy Bartuccio said council members went over the budget line-by-line before the unanimous decision to accept the tentative budget. A decision needed to be made by December 1, according to Borough Manager Eden Ratliff.
“We did cut a few things – we had to to make things work,” Bartuccio said.
Ratliff said elected officials had “significantly-less money” to utilize to subsidize the General Fund budget – usually aided by public utility funds shifted for a new Borough water treatment plant currently under-review.
He said the tentative budget passage ensures that taxpayers will not see a tax increase in 2015.
“We can’t raise or lower taxes at this point, but we can change where the money’s going,” Ratliff said. “We can make minor changes to the budget because it has to be adopted 30 days from now.
“We have fundamentally changed the way we are operating,” Ratliff added. “We had to make drastic cuts.”
Pending litigation with full-time officers and council discussion about a new police cruiser last week could alter the 2015 budget or the final bills in 2014 as well.
Police benefits were also slashed nearly $60,000, along with supplies.
Borough Council members will vote on the budget during the last week of December. It is now available for public inspection at the Borough office.