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Jeannette council to discuss budget after Thanksgiving

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 9:52 p.m.

Jeannette City Council will likely meet the week following Thanksgiving for a public budget workshop session.

The meeting date hasn't been set, yet, but council finance chair Bill Bedont said it is just a matter of waiting for a list of fixed costs to be finished. Part of that list is dependent upon the union negotiations to wrap up so Bedont can plug in the salary, hospitalization and workman's compensation figures. On Monday, Bedont said two of the three unions are close to signing a contract.

On the revenue side of the 2013 budget, Bedont said he has started the budget building process with conservative figures.

“I learned a lot in the past year,” Bedont said. “This year, I'm pretty close (together) on the revenue and cost figures.”

Bedont was referencing last year's first draft budget which showed a $700,000 gap between costs and income — a gap that was closed in part by using revenue figures that were less conservative and more realistic, according to council. Bedont said such a gap is not present in this year's budget building.

Bedont said a special meeting will likely be held in December to approve the budget.

“This year we're pretty close in the figures and we have a pretty good group of guys,” Bedont said, explaining that communication between council members has been good throughout this process.

Bedont had to submit what is known as a solvency report to the city's auditors this fall. This report explains how the city plans to make it to the end of 2012 financially. Bedont said the auditors approved the report with some corrections, which he said have already been made. “We will make it to the end of the year paying bills and salaries,” said Bedont. “The next big bill is the TAN loan, which is due by Dec. 31. The last thing on our plate is the police pension payment, $414,000, in December. It starts accruing interest Jan. 1.”

The TAN — tax anticipation loan — was borrowed early in the year to bridge the gap between the end of 2011 and the start of tax collections in 2012. The city intends to seek another TAN loan in the early part of 2013 and must pay off the existing loan before that happens. Bedont said the TAN loan is the council's highest priority in terms of large bills that still need to be paid this year.

Bedont said he is cautiously optimistic the city will finish 2012 breaking even. He is hopeful council will be able to start building a five-year plan.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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