SHAMOKIN - City officials have come under fire recently as news surrounding Shamokin's troubling financial status continues to develop, and the city's newest mayor hasn't been spared.

William David Milbrand, 54, has endured plenty of criticism of late, none more scathing than when the former city council voted last month to furlough two patrolmen.

Milbrand was among the four council members who voted in favor of a balanced $2.5 million budget that included the furloughs - as were current Councilman R. Craig Rhoades and two now former elected officials, outgoing Councilman William Strausser and Mayor George Rozinskie Jr.

It was a pained decision for all four and one not without consequences. Milbrand has taken it in stride and is attempting, with the help of the current council - Rhoades and newcomers Barbara Moyer and Charlie Verano - to find fiscal alternatives that will keep the officers on the job.

"It made me want to work harder," Milbrand said of the public outrage. "It gave me a good idea of what I have to deal with. ... I'm not going to back away from anything that has to be done. I'm going to be strong for the city."

Through it all, he's remained optimistic and continues to express his fondness for a hometown that's long ago fallen on hard times.

"I think the town can come back. I think it has potential and I think we can do things," Milbrand said last week.

"We had to do some unpleasant things to balance the budget, but I do think with hard work, careful fiscal planning and long-range planning, we can get this straightened out and get on the up and up."

Musician runs bus firm

He is a son of Miriam Milbrand, 89, of Shamokin, and the late William Oliver Milbrand. He graduated Shamokin Area High School in 1977 and had long been employed by the district. He had also been a part-time driver for Catawese Coach Lines, beginning in 1990. When the bus company was put up for sale in 2010, Milbrand purchased it.

The mayor is also a musician, fond of marching bands, and sings in the choir at First Presbyterian Church, Sunbury Street, Shamokin. He plays the baritone horn and had studied music education - his brother, Thomas, is a retired music educator - and is "technically" the director of the dormant Our Shamokin Band. He also assisted last year in reorganizing the Kulpmont Our Boys Band for the San Marizale Parade.

A former chief of the Shamokin Fire Bureau, he remains treasurer of Independence Fire Association and is a member of its house committee. He recently retired from his church's session.

Milbrand's election victory in November was his third. He was elected to council in 2009 to a two-year term. He won a full four years in 2011. In 2013, by the slimmest of margins - a single-vote - he was elected to become mayor.

He is slated to be sworn in to office today, as are Moyer and Verano.

Out to prove he cares

Milbrand said for 2014 that city council must freeze unnecessary spending and get Shamokin's finances in order.

He knows he has his doubters. He said he's used to being a underdog.

"When you're a little guy and not the big bully, you really have to fight your way up all the time. I want to prove to people that I can do it and I want to prove it to the people I care about in the community," he said. "I'm not in it for any other reason."