Budget surplus could help pave more streets in Manor

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A budget surplus has Manor on the path toward reserving extra money for road paving related to the state-mandated sewage project next year, officials said.

With about $630,000 left over in its general fund as of last week, Manor also is positioned for 2014 to continue at least a decade-long trend of shunning a short-term tax-anticipation loan at the start of each year to provide instant cash until residents pay their annual taxes.

Good planning by council and Manager Joe Lapia have created a solid financial situation for Manor, Mayor David Sturgess said.

“We've never really been in trouble,” said Sturgess, who is stepping aside at the end of the year after a decade as a public official.

Already this year, the borough's surplus has enabled council to pay off nearly $103,000 in loan principal for three pieces of equipment — and save about $8,000 in interest payments as a result — and pull $12,000 from the reserve for a new, zero-turn lawn mower to speed up the time public-works employees expend on grass-cutting.

The borough's $1.06-million spending plan for 2013 also facilitated the hiring of a third full-time public-works employee and third full-time police officer this year. Manor hadn't had that many full-timers on the road crew before, and police Chief George Valmassoni said his department had been down to two full-timers in each of the previous two years.

If council spends everything that's budgeted in 2013, Manor would have about $270,000 left over at the end of the year, Lapia said. That's generally the amount officials prefer to have left over so they don't have to get a tax-anticipation loan — and pay interest on that cash infusion.

But Lapia said it's possible the borough could end the year with a higher surplus, especially if departments come in under budget again.

In that case, officials likely would set aside some money to pay for paving sections of about 10 streets in the older section of town after the completion of a $3-million sewer project.

“Some of those streets haven't been done in years, and they're pretty bad,” Lapia said.

Council also might consider putting some of the reserve funds into an interest-bearing account. That idea briefly came up before council members decided to pay off loans for a dump truck, police car and back hoe.

Council President Brian Woy said it's important for Manor to have a cushion in its budget for unforeseen circumstances, like the June 2009 flooding that led to repairs at Lower Manor Park.

“When you're as small of a municipality as we are, you can't afford to take a big hit,” he said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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