Mount Carmel making budget process changes
MOUNT CARMEL - Borough council members will decide next week whether future budget transfers between departments will need approved by majority vote and signed off by the mayor.
Provided that council members approve the new "Appropriations Ordinance" Monday night, funds for line items in a category can be transferred by borough manager Edward Cuff III without approval, but money transfers from one category to another and from one department to another will need additional approval.
For transferring from one category to the next within a department, Cuff or other department heads must have approval of the budget committee, which consists of council President Tony Matulewicz, Councilman Joseph Lapotsky and a third member to be appointed next month. These will not be voted on, but they will be discussed at workshop meetings.
For transferring from one department to the next, the action must be advertised in an ordinance, approved at the next council meeting and signed off by incoming Mayor Philip "Bing" Cimino
"It will be an administrative hassle, but it should be. We should be watching these things closely," Matulewicz said.
Departments consists of general government, police, fire, code, public works, culture/recreation and insurance/casualty/surety.
This move prevents council from passing a budget on paper, but changing decisions in the new year when it's popular to do so, he said.
Matulewicz cited the borough pool as an example: the council decided Dec. 19 that the Henry J. Honcz and Louise C. Honcz Memorial Pool will not reopen in the summer, saving the borough at least $13,000.
"We didn't have enough money to run the pool last year, but we still opened it. This (new ordinance) ties the financial decisions into the actual decisions. If we want to open the pool, that's fine. We just need to find the money for it before we do," he said.
The ordinance is a more "realistic and business-like" practice and ties political decisions to the actual cost of that decision, Matulewicz said.
The president doesn't anticipate any need for department transfers in the new year, but there will likely be a need for some line item or categorical changes in the $1,653,431 2014 budget.
The ordinance does allow some leeway for emergencies declared by the mayor.
Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in borough hall to discuss and vote on the ordinance.
They will also vote on an ordinance to fix the tax rate at 32 1/4 mills imposed on borough property owners, which consists of 27 mills reserved for the general fund, 5 mills for street improvements, 0 mills reserved for street lights and 1/4-mill for the library.
Taxes have remained the same since 2007.