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Category: Ford City

More Ford City Tax Changes Proposed

A trio of Ford City Borough Council members entertained the proposal to cut taxes for the Fire Fund – which is primarily used to make payments for the 2011 Pierce engine. (KP File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

Ford City Borough council members are proposing additional taxpayer and business savings in addition to the already-tentative three-quarters of a mill tax decrease.

During a budget workshop Friday morning, Council President Kathy Bartuccio, Vice-President Jerry Miklos and Councilwoman Beth Bowser discussed ways to save taxpayers more money.

Miklos said that is the top priority.

“I think it’s about time we give something back to the taxpayers – for too long, they have played sucker and it’s been far too easy for past Council’s to stick their hand in taxpayers’ pocket and pull out whatever it is they need(ed),” Miklos said.

In his proposal, Miklos aimed to save residents an additional mill of taxes by reducing the 2.6-mill Fire Tax to .6 mills.

The other mill of taxes would be earmarked for a newly-formed reserve fund.

“We have been talking all year about creating a reserve fund – I’ve been a strong advocate for creating a reserve fund for years and it never came to fruition,” Miklos said. “I would like to see a reserve fund established, and that can begin with as little as one mill per year.”

Residents currently pay 2.6 mills annually – or about $70,000 – to help offset costs for the fire truck as well as other miscellaneous expenses, but the proposal would cause that profit to drop to about $15,000.

The tax doubled after the Borough purchased a 2011 Pierce Velocity 2000 GPM Engine in December 2010.

About $108,000 is currently available in the Fire Fund. With principal and interest payments, the fire truck costs about $45,000 per year.

Bowser agreed with reallocating tax millage into a reserve fund, but wanted to see more all the fire department expenses before making a decision on the remaining tax commitment.

Firefighters and Borough Council agreed in January 2013 when the budget was reopened to take half a mill less that year to help pay street lighting expenditures. However, that was only a one-time cut since truck payments could not be financed otherwise.

Under the current payment structure, The Borough would continue paying off the fire truck for about the next nine years.

The trio of elected officials also heard the proposal calling for the elimination of the Business Privilege Tax.

All businesses currently are billed $150 annually. If business owners pay the fee by the end of January, the fee is reduced to $135, but if they don’t pay at all, penalties accrue over time.

Miklos and Bowser agreed with the proposal, but also said there needs to be more enforcement against businesses that have overdue payments.

“We should make a concerted effort to collect all back-due Business Privilege Taxes,” Miklos said. “It’s not fair to the people who are paying it every year.”

Miklos said Ford City Borough receives about $17,000 from the Business Privilege Tax, and that eliminating the tax might encourage more businesses to open.

A mill equals about $27,000, but has been decreasing due to population. In last month’s advertised 2016 budget, residents would pay 16.65 mills in local taxes – 11 toward the General Fund, 2.6 for fire apparatus,1.9 toward street lighting, one mill toward the public library along 4th Avenue and .15 toward the non-uniform pension fund.

FC Police Fleet Looks to Get Charged Up

Newly-elected Councilman Tyson Klukan asks Borough Manager Eden Ratliff about the police cars last night. Klukan was concerned both cars cover unknown expenses to be fully-equipped and will also have to be inspected.

by Jonathan Weaver

Ford City Borough Police is one step closer to swapping out two police cars in its fleet.

Last night, Borough Council approved the purchase of vehicle identification numbers for two 2009 Dodge Chargers from Plum Borough for $5,000.

Borough Manager Eden Ratliff test-drove the vehicles late last week, and said the two unmarked vehicles have run 107,000 and 120,000 miles, respectively.

“It’s not always the years and the amount of miles, but how well the cars were taken care of,” Ratliff relayed from Interim Police Chief Johnathan Freel. “These vehicles in Plum received oil changes every 2,000 miles (and) regular maintenance from two in-house mechanics.”

These police cars have been well taken care of.”

One vehicle is all black while another has a black-and-white color scheme.

Both Interim Police Chief Freel and Ratliff were hopeful to have one or both of the vehicles road-ready next month.

Councilwoman Beth Bowser made the motion to pay for the two vehicles.

“We have to depend on our automobiles to respond to calls – two out of three in our fleet have transmission problems, so we figured it was an inexpensive way and a quality choice for the money (Plum Borough) is asking for to keep our police department in-service,” Bowser said.

“I think it’s a very good financial deal to make. They are more secure in terms of reliability than the ones in our current fleet.”

Bowser said these deals are also a good indicator Chief Freel is off to a good start.

“He’s very excited – he’s made a world of changes already in such a short amount of time. Needed changes,” Bowser said.

Councilwoman – and Police Committee chair – Vicki Schaub opposed the purchase.

“I don’t think we had time to really search (the vehicles) out as far as seeing all the records on the cars,” Schaub said. “I didn’t like the high mileage. Yes, the cars we have are pretty beat and weren’t taken care of, and I wonder if these were taken care of. I’d rather see us sell two or three cars and get a new car.”

Newly-elected Councilman Tyson Klukan also had concerns. He hoped all financial figures were available, unlike some items in Ratliff’s report.

“We would have to purchase the decals separately – which is something we’re looking into,” Ratliff said. “It does not coming with the LED (light) package or siren package – that will also have to be purchased separately and put inside the cars.”

A photo is displayed of one of the Plum Borough cars that Ford City is trying to purchase. (submitted photo)

Both vehicles will also need to be inspected, and the purchase will need to be approved by Plum Borough.

The vehicles will replace two existing police vehicle that will go out-for-bid: including an unmarked white Crown Victoria with 160,000 miles and a Crown Victoria police vehicle that has run about 90,000 miles.

The white Crown Victoria is currently driven regularly by Ordinance Enforcement Officer Michele Meixelberger.

Both vehicles have had transmission problems.

According to the municipality’s webpage, Plum Borough Police t is comprised of 26 full-time police officers, including a Chief of Police, a Lieutenant, six Sergeants, two detectives, two School Resource Officers, and a K-9. The Department also has a three member civilian support staff which includes a police records administrator and two police records clerks.

As per a different motion, council members will also pay for global positioning systems for all three Ford City Police vehicles at an unknown cost.

A meeting on the upcoming 2016 budget will be held this Friday morning at the Borough office.

Council members approved to advertise the 16.65 mill tax ordinance last night via a 3-2 vote.

Schaub and Council Vice-President Jerry Miklos opposed the motion.

The tax ordinance calls for a .75 mill tax decrease

Ford City Express Still Held in Station

by Jonathan Weaver

For months, Ford City Renaissance Community Partnership leaders have seemingly asked for a meeting to discuss crafting an agreement for the Ford City Express.

They were granted the meeting during a nearly-40 minute special committee session following Monday night’s regular council meeting, but left without the train title.

Borough Council Vice-President Jerry Miklos insisted committee members “want (Ford City Renaissance) to have (the train)” and “are not trying to prevent them from having the train.”

But, with one caveat: a lease.

“We had a strong suggestion from our attorney to give them a long-term lease for $1 – which would give (the Ford City Renaissance) total control of the train and safeguard the Borough’s interest if anything ever happened to the Renaissance committee – but they didn’t like that,” Miklos said. “I’m not sure why.”

Co-Chair Paul Klukan said the non-profit leaders have already poured more than $2,000 in community donations into the restoration effort, but they won’t dedicate any more without an agreement. He was frustrated with the “uphill battle.”

“I will not do a lease,” Klukan said. “We didn’t get (anywhere).

“You try to do something nice for the town…”

In the proposed lease, Renaissance leaders had 15 days to return the train and title to the Borough.

“Harrisburg (doesn’t) work that fast,” Klukan said.

Renaissance leaders hoped to restore the Ford City Express by Easter

“(The Ford City Lions) have the big Easter Egg Hunt in town, and we thought we’d bring the Easter Bunny in on the train,” Klukan said. “I can’t do (anything) until (Borough Council) turns the title over.”

The last time the train rode the streets of Ford City and was inspected was in 1984.

Reportedly, Solicitor Anthony Vigilante advised Ford City Renaissance leaders to ask again at the beginning of the calendar year when a new Borough Council majority is sworn in.

A poll from the last two days at shows 89% of the respondents feel Ford City should give over title to the choo-choo with no strings attached. Voting continues through tomorrow on our website.