Towanda's proposed 2014 budget has $20,000 shortfall
TOWANDA - The proposed 2014 budget for Towanda Borough has a $20,277 funding shortfall in its General Fund, the borough manager said.
The Towanda Borough Council, which will next meet on Dec. 2, will need to decide how to address the gap in funding, said borough Manager Kyle V. Lane.
Under the proposed budget, the General Fund, which is the borough's main operating fund, has $1,357,038 in expenses and $1,336,761 in revenue, according to a copy of the budget.
The shortfall is "mostly due to general increases in (the borough's) labor costs and the addition of two full-time police officers," Lane wrote in a letter on Wednesday to the members of the borough council.
At its Nov. 5 meeting, the borough council agreed to add an additional full-time police officer to the borough's police force, which Police Chief Randy Epler said is needed due to the difficulty in filling some shifts with part-time officers. The hire of the additional officer is expected to occur at the Dec. 2 meeting.
A second additional full-time police officer has been proposed to replace school resource officer Reggie Douglas, who is retiring, Lane said.
Douglas, who is an employee of the Towanda Police Department, had been working part-time as a school resource officer, although he has been basically working full-time on the Towanda school campus since the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting last December, Lane said.
The council's options for addressing the $20,277 funding shortfall include dipping into the General Fund balance, transferring money to the General Fund from one of the borough's other funds, instituting a small tax increase, replacing Douglas with a part-time officer, or making cuts elsewhere in the budget, Lane said.
Having only a part-time school resource officer would probably not eliminate the entire funding shortfall, but would get rid of most of it, he said.
The proposed budget would "keep all the same services we currently provide our residents and bring back the momentum to pave our streets on a year to year basis," Lane wrote in his letter.
There is money in the proposed budget to demolish a vacant, dilapidated house at 834 Main St., which the borough purchased at a judicial sale, Lane wrote. "The property (at 834 Main St.) and several near it have been deemed a blighted area for tome time," Lane wrote.
A planned upgrade to the borough's traffic signals, which is funded by a $205,000 state grant, "will be coming to fruition in the first quarter of 2014," Lane wrote.
"The large section of (the) College Run (storm sewer system) is scheduled to begin (to be constructed) in the fall of 2014 with an estimated cost of $2.5 million, funded by PEMA/FEMA," Lane wrote.
The budget includes $100,000 in state liquid fuels dollars "to get back on board with a paving program," with the "most deplorable streets" to be done first, Lane wrote.
In the past, the borough has not done street paving in some years.
Lane said he is continuing to work on the budget and will be making a formal presentation to the council on the budget at its Dec. 2 meeting.
The council is scheduled to pass a tentative budget at its Dec. 2 meeting, and then adopt a final budget at a special meeting at the end of December.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org