Oakmont's preliminary budget holds taxes steady
Oakmont Council's proposed budget would not increase taxes for 2014.
On Monday night, Borough Manager Lisa Cooper-Jensen presented a budget that would hold real estate taxes at 3.4 mills based on a real estate assessment of $465,334,000 for the borough.
The proposed budget expenditures total $3,478,000 and, for now, are more than $11,000 over the projected revenues of $3,467,000.
But all that is subject to change with a council budget session scheduled for Nov. 25 and a regular council work session set for Dec. 2, as council President Tim Milberger emphasized.
“This is version one. When we are finally done, the budget may look like this or it may not look like this,” Milberger said.
Adoption of the preliminary budget is scheduled for the Dec. 9 council meeting.
Among the items included in the budget that Cooper-Jensen highlighted are: $30,000 for a new emergency generator for the borough building; $35,000 for a police vehicle; and $50,000 for playground equipment, electrical service and fencing for Riverview Memorial Park.
The budget also will have to account for an arbitrator's salary award to the borough's full time police.
Solicitor Robert Shoop said the five-year contract, which replaces the contract that expired at the end of 2012, calls for a retroactive 3 percent wage increase for this year and 2.75 percent in 2014 followed by 3 percent raises in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Under the contract, Shoop said the cap on the share of the monthly health insurance premium paid by the police, will rise from $100 to $175 by the end of the contract in 2017.
One of the big gains for the borough in the police contract is increasing the difference in salaries between new officers and veterans. Shoop said an officer starting with the department receives $12,000 less than veteran officers. That increases to $15,000 less under the new contract, with $3,000 added to the gap every year, making the starting salary $27,000 less than veteran officers' pay by the end of the contract, he said.
In addition to the police, the other union borough employees will receive 3 percent raises in the coming year under than contract, according to Cooper-Jensen.
Council must decide on pay raises for more than a dozen non-union borough employees as well and Councilwoman Nancy Ride suggested using 3 percent as a starting point for discussion and council agreed.
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.