Category: Local News

Ford City Tentative Budget Calls for Police Cuts

Ford City Borough Council has approved its tentative 2015 budget – which will eliminate at least 11 part-time police officers to trim costs and prevent a tax increase.

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.

Ford City Grad Brings ‘Quartet’ Home Sunday

“Mission Quartet” – a Southern Gospel vocal ensemble will be performing in a Kittanning church Sunday evening – and will involve a local graduate (submitted photo).

by Jonathan Weaver

After Sam Piper graduated from Ford City High in June, he was all-set to go to college.

The former Student Council President would have studied Music Pedagogy – an in-depth study of teaching – but he elected to jump start his career by latching onto the Southern Gospel group “Mission Quartet” in November.

Based in Florence, Kentucky, Piper – who sings bass – performed his first concert with the quartet November 9 in Alabama – a week after he auditioned.

“I was accepted at Lancaster Bible College, and I auditioned – I had everything set up – but I wasn’t totally set on it. With this opportunity God had presented, that was my answer,” Sam said. “We seem to blend really well together.”

Sam– who also won the 2012 “Festival Idol” competition at the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival – will bring his talent back home this Sunday, performing at his home church – Pine Creek Baptist along Route 28/66 in Kittanning – at 6PM after singing at the 11AM morning service at First Baptist Church in Butler.

Even though he is a little nervous.

“It’s a little different – it sounds weird, but I’m more comfortable singing in front of total strangers. A little more nerve-wracking singing in front of people I know,” Sam said. “I’ve done some different concerts at my church, but this is the first concert I’ve done with the group I’m currently a part of.”

Sam is the youngest member of the group at least by 20 years, but he said the group is “young-spirited.” He still thought it was quite-a-change from when he sang with all high school students at Ford City High.

“(The rest of Mission Quartet) has more-mature voices – when you sing in a choir with 15-year-old boys, it’s a little different,” Sam said. “Plus, there’s a lot of developing. They’re very seasoned singers, so they’re helping me a lot, too.

“I need to be the best I can be. I see myself being here awhile.”

Mother, Dawn, will be front-row at the evening concert.
“It’s going to be hard once he’s out on the road, but God will give me the ability to be OK while he’s gone,” Dawn said. “I’m very excited for him.”

After singing in Kentucky before a holiday break, “Mission Quartet” will tour through Florida at the end of January and into February. There are no more shows currently scheduled in Pennsylvania.

A love offering will be accepted at the free show Sunday night.