JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Southmont Borough Council needs to find an estimated $42,000 to balance its tentative $850,000 budget before the November budget deadline set by the state.
During a council meeting Wednesday, Councilman Kevin Pile made a motion to raise property taxes by 1 mill to offset the projected budget deficit in 2022, but his motion failed to get a second from any other council member.
Members Sheree Speicher, Eric Muncert, Herb Ewald, Bill Trevorrow and Robert Morgan were present at the meeting.
“I’m not voting for any tax increase,” Trevorrow said.
Last year, the council approved a 3-mill tax increase for paving roads, a new roof for the municipal building on Wonder Street and a state-mandated stormwater project at Cheney Run.
On Wednesday, Trevorrow punctuated his opposition to another tax increase by saying that none of those projects are complete.
Increased costs of police services from the West Hills Regional Police Department have been a major budget hurdle, Pile said.
“The police services and borough payroll are half of the budget,” Pile said.
The West Hills Regional police budget is expected to increase again this year, but it hasn’t been finalized or shared with the municipalities, including Southmont, that fund the department.
The Southmont council on Wednesday scheduled a budget meeting Nov. 9 at the municipal building to decide how to fund the 2022 budget.
By that time, council members said they hope to have a clearer picture of the police’s financial requests.
A final budget vote is scheduled for Nov. 15 to align with the state deadline for municipal budget submissions.
One option to balance the borough’s budget would be to take $50,000 from the liquid fuels fund. Borough Secretary Amanda Layton said that decision would leave $130,00 remaining in the fund for paving in 2022.
To reduce expenses, the council unanimously voted Wednesday to end payments to council members and the borough mayor. That saves roughly $7,000 per year, Layton said.
Pennsylvania borough code allows borough officials to be paid. Since 1988, Southmont Borough Council members have been paid $75 per month.
The council is also changing its tree ordinance to save $15,000 per year.
Instead of contracting tree services to maintain trees in rights of way, it will be the responsibility of property owners, Speicher said.