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Monessen officials willing to 'give back' for police car

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

If Monessen council posts a tentative budget that holds the line on taxes, it could do so in part with a salary giveback from elected officials.

The tentative spending plan is expected to receive council approval when it meets tonight.

Council appears to be prepared for budget action in the wake of a four-hour work and budget sessions Monday night.

During that meeting, Mayor Mary Jo Smith and three of the four council members discussed donating their salaries to the city to cover the cost of a new police car. Councilman Josh Retos was at the session Monday, but had to leave before salary donations were discussed.

Controller Wayne Vlasic and Treasurer Gerald Saksun, whose salaries would also be affected, were not present at the meeting. They are not required to attend council work sessions.

Smith said state third class city code precludes city officials from increasing or decreasing their salaries while in office.

“Council worked diligently on the budget,” Smith said. “We went to extremes.”

If approved, the salary give-backs would total $22,000.

Each councilman earns $2,800 annually. The mayor's salary is $4,800 The treasurer's salary is split between the school district and city. The city's share is $3,200. The controller receives $2,800 annually.

Smith said council will vote tonight on the tentative budget.

“We worked through everything, and the department heads were willing to make extensive cuts, so we didn't have to raise millage,” Smith said.

The tentative spending plan would involve some cuts in part-time positions, but none from police department. The city actually is looking to hire some part-time employees as prisoner- watchers for evening and overnight shifts.

This is a bare bones budget,”Smith said. “There's no wiggle room in this budget.”

Smith said state cuts have impacted the budget in recent years. She noted that the city's Community Development Block Grant allocation – $475,000 a few years ago – is down to $300,000 for the 2013 fiscal year plan.

“There's been a lot of cuts forced on us,” Smith said. “I think we did a great job, with the help of (city clerk) Rosalie (Nicksich) and council.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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