Share This Page

Saxonburg proposed budget shows tax increase, police department cutback

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 12:18 a.m.

Saxonburg's proposed budget for the coming year includes a 21 percent property tax increase and slashes $20,000 from the police department budget.

Council members aren't happy about either, they said Wednesday.

“I don't think we have a choice,” said Councilwoman Pamela Bauman. “I hate the increase, but I don't know what more we can do (to cut costs).”

The borough is losing $20,000 in annual revenue because Butler County decided to relocate the district judge's office from the borough building.

And the borough has to pay on a $120,000 loan used to fund the first phase of Main Street Stormwater Project.

Council plans to vote on the $640,800 budget on Dec. 5. The budget increases taxes a total of 4 mills, to 22.66 mills. Two mills will pay down the borough's debt for five years. Once the debt is paid the tax rate could drop.

One mill generates about $12,800 for the borough.

When council began budget discussions, it was looking at a $33,000 budget gap. Council usually sets aside $30,000 to funds for capital improvements, vehicle purchase and building maintenance, but this year revenue didn't even cover general expenses.

“Council decided to put $15,000 in the set asides, and the rest was made up with nickels and dimes,” Borough Manager Mary Papik said.

Mayor Jody Pflueger worries how the cut to the police department's budget for part-time officers will affect citizens' sense of security.

The police department has 11 part-time officers and one full-time officer — the police chief.

The $20,000 cut means a reduction of 1,461 available hours for part-time officers. It brings the department's budget to about $134,000, Pflueger said. Council set aside $10,000 of the cut for a new police vehicle and capital improvements.

“Our police force won't be as visible,” the mayor said. “We do a lot of business checks and other things that might not be eliminated but won't be as frequent.”

Council President William Gillespie Jr. said the police department's budget simply needs to be more closely monitored.

“It has to be a reasonable budget and it has to be managed properly,” he said. “I think we have two officers on duty when we could be getting away with one.”

Council spent about an hour on Wednesday whittling away at other expenses to reduce the budget gap, including cutting professional conferences, contingency funding for engineering fees and money set aside for attorney costs related to revising borough ordinances.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.