Officials to borrow to balance budget
An officer escorted an angry resident from the meeting.
By LAURI GALENTINE
GREENVILLE, Pa. -- Borough council has finalized a revised budget for 2002, but will have to borrow $208,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to make it balance.
The measure approved during a special meeting Thursday estimates both revenues and expenditures at $3,061,000, and does not include any payment on the $1.62 million in outstanding debt.
The budget replaces one approved by the former board Dec. 31.
That original document set expected revenues at $2,941,448 and estimated expenditures at $3,007,825. Even so, it estimated $66,000 in net income at the end of the year.
Cuts made: Councilwoman Pamela S. Auchter said despite the way the numbers may look, council members have actually cut $300,000 in expenditures from the old package and plan to continue scrutinizing the numbers to see if they can cut more.
They removed questionable revenues -- like a $275,000 tax anticipation loan they knew wasn't coming in that appeared in the original budget -- and replaced them with a 5-mill tax increase approved by the courts earlier in the day, Auchter said.
The final budget puts borough taxes at 31.5 mills.
Council vice president Bryan D. Langietti said that some of the savings will be realized by not filling two vacant positions in the police department.
One of those, he said, is the police chief who retired in January.
Questioned vote: Residents in attendance, however, questioned council's vote, taken at the same meeting, to hire another firefighter. Rob D. Ensminger, of Avalon, Pa., will begin his duties with the department Wednesday. He will receive an estimated $18,000 per year plus benefits for the job, Langietti said.
The councilman explained that while a contract in effect through Dec. 31, 2004, does allow for one layoff in the department, firefighters had agreed to a wage freeze earlier this year in exchange for filling the vacant position.
Their contract calls for a staff of seven paid workers, complemented by volunteers, according to council president Richard S. Houpt.
While many residents argued that it was a waste of money, Langietti said the cost of filling the position equals the cost of paying overtime wages to firefighters working extra hours to fill in.
It's about safety: Councilwoman Robin S. Douglas said that put it down to a safety issue for firefighters and the community. That's why they decided to fill the position, she said.
When resident Carmen Surano began slinging insults at council members in the midst of the budget discussion, because of that hiring, he was escorted from the meeting by a borough police officer.
Several other residents in the large crowd left with him, many shouting insults.