Mount Carmel owes $1 million in pension funds to former and current employees
MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel Borough Council revealed Thursday night that it owes more than $1 million toward pensions of former and current employees.
President Tony Matulewicz explained during the regular meeting the current actuary from Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Fund reported the pension funds for the police were underfunded by $759,885 and the pensions funds for the borough and municipal authority employees was underfunded by $247,548 over an undetermined period of time.
The total - $1,007,433, which could increase with further investigation - could be paid back in increments over a number of years, council members said.
"I don't know how we're going to fix this. We were doing so good," Vice President Leroy "Chico" Moser said. "If we can't fix this, we're in a bind, and future councils are in a bind."
The borough switched providers in March 2012 from Susquehanna Bank as third party administrator and Aon Actuarial Risk Assessment to Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Trust as third party administrator and Tom Anderson as actuary.
As part of state law, the new provider must go over past paperwork, but the borough was unable to provide enough information to satisfy the actuary, Matulewicz said.
Paperwork and files were missing from the borough's records, and some of what was provided did not match the actuary's contribution reports and W-2 forms, he said.
The council members said past practices of former borough officials and council members resulted in mismanagement and inaccurate numbers being reported to the third-party administrator.
Matulewicz said he has theories on what happened, but has no evidence yet to prove his allegations.
At this point, there is no plan in place on how to manage such a substantial amount, he said.
The 2013 budget is $1.7 million. A mill of property tax is equal to approximately $20,000, which means it would take 50 mills to generate $1 million.
Quality of life
The council also unanimously approved to advertise the Quality of Life Ordinance, which will allow the borough code enforcement officer and police officers to issue tickets similar to parking tickets when code violations - such as trash, high weeds, animal feces and snow and ice accumulation - are discovered.
Councilman Joseph Lapotsky, who has spearheaded the campaign to pass the ordinance, thanked Police Chief Todd Owens, Mayor J. Kevin Jones and other members of council for supporting the measure and researching other municipality ordinances of a similar nature.
"This will definitely be an asset to clean up the town," he said.
A ticket doesn't carry the same weight as a citation and would give people a fair warning to get their properties cleaned up before higher penalties are imposed.
The fine will be a $25 ticket with 30 days to appeal. If it is not paid, it would go to a magistrate judge for a court appearance.
The council members added a provision Thursday night to include individuals being fined if they dispose of their household garbage in borough-owned trash receptacles.
There have been pizza boxes, diapers and seafood shells found in park trash cans, Matulewicz said.
The ordinance will likely be adopted next month.