Proposed city budget has no tax increase

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven City Council was formally presented the proposed 2017 budget Monday evening.

The submission of the recommended budget was made by City Manager Richard Marcinkevage with little or no comment by staff or council members.

The budget shows no tax increase, no capital projects and no water or sewer rate increases in the coming year.

A public hearing on the recommended budget on first reading will occur at council’s Nov. 28 meeting, with a public notice slated for Nov. 29.

Two work sessions will occur with staff personnel on Dec. 5 and 12, and a public hearing will be held on Dec. 19 for any comments on final adoption of the proposal and a vote on final adoption of the 2017 tax levy ordinance.

When asked about the details, Marcinkevage pointed to the summary page of the financial package, but he suggested more details might be forthcoming during council members’ examination of those figures. He also said the official figures may change when council discusses the matter at the upcoming work sessions.

The bottom line — No tax increase is expected in the city next year.

The city’s taxpaying public can expect $4.51 million in the proposed general fund, $56,418 for the off-street parking fund, $2.38 million for  the water fund, $3.51 million for the sewer fund, $318,707 for the airport operating fund, and $352,382 for the highway aid fund for a total proposed budget of $11.14 million.

The budget splits the tax dollar 10 ways:

r Police department – 41 cents of each tax dollar collected

r Administration – 13 cents

r Streets – 8 cents

r Fire protection – 9 cents

r Finance/tax – 8 cents

r Debt – 4 cents

r Codes/zoning – 4 cents

r Levee – 3 cents

r Parks – 3 cents

r All other expenses (including buildings and parking) 7 cents.

Yet to be discussed, are any expected increases in health insurance cost, liability insurance and other insurance premiums, or the fund balance and carry-over  from 2016.

In other matters:

r Marcinkevage noted two audits reflecting the examination of the police pension fund and city employees’ retirement fund with no major issues and the two packages standing at 98 percent and 96 percent funded, respectively.

r The Comcast CATV fees for  the third quarter, amounting to $18,569, were transmitted.

r The United Evangelical Lutheran Church expressed concerns for the conditions of some of the city-owned trees generating bees and dropping sap on vehicles. Council members said they didn’t want to set a precedent by replacing or removing the Little League Linden trees, but would accept a fuller letter of explanation from church.

r The board will encumber  2016 Liquid Fuels funding in the amount of  $7,720 for some future road project.

r Council will request $5,000 from the Clinton County Community Foundation for  the Summer Concert Series, and another  $5,000 for the Susquehanna River Boat Dock.

r The staff will submit a grant application to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for funding  to improve Hammermill Playground, with consideration of the city’s 50-percent matching cost from the Community Development Block Grant  Program.

r Council member Steve Stevenson gave an extensive report on the recently announced pilot program to provide mass transit to sections of  the city, at a proposed cost of  $15,200 from February to May, six  days a week, with the cost to be shared  by Lock Haven University, the city if it  decides to take part, Clinton County, the Clinton County Housing Authority and other agencies. The proposed cost for each year would be $45,600, with residents over 65 riding for free and stops at convenient locations like First Quality and Wal-Mart.

Stevenson said the pilot program is likely to be successful given the low cost of the initiative per individual, which is estimated at about $2 per day. Councilman Ted Forbes, who served on the initial committee, said this program could be a great investment for the community and added, “we should take a good hard look at this.”

r Safety and traffic issues in the area of Jones Street to Railroad Street were discussed, but council members could find no clear way of  convincing PennDOT to update a traffic study of that area.

r Mayor William Baney briefly discussed the city’s leaf-pickup program and Marcinkevage said the city’s  vacuum machine will be running during daylight hours next week.

r Regional police was also briefly discussed, with council members willing to look at and participate in a study to look at the numbers, but Mayor Baney expressed skepticism at how such an initiative could meld with the Lock Haven Police Department.