Shamokin council cuts police overtime even more
SHAMOKIN - The city's mayor said Wednesday projected costs for police overtime in 2014 will be further reduced in the amended budget to ensure both furloughed officers are reinstated next month.
The projected budget for police overtime was reduced from $92,323 to $59,313 in an amended budget given preliminary approval Tuesday. That and other changes are enough to recall one of the officers, but an additional $32,000 will be taken from the overtime line item when council votes on the final version Feb. 6, Mayor William D. Milbrand said Wednesday.
The second reduction will bring the projected budget for police overtime to $27,313, Milbrand said.
Savings will be sought throughout the year potentially allowing for a larger overtime budget, Milbrand said, but he said council "must be extremely careful" with those expenses.
Cpl. Jarrod Scandle and Patrolman Nate Rhodes are expected to be recalled Feb. 7.
'Lowest possible number'
City council reopened the 2014 budget Tuesday and adopted revisions toward reinstating the two full-time patrol officers who were laid off Jan. 13. The officers along with two part-time special officers and other cuts were approved with the original budget adopted Dec. 23 when council finished balancing a budget that had a deficit of more than $616,000.
The new budget is balanced at $2,338,138, down from the $2,518,006 budget adopted in December. It remains available for public review until 4 p.m. Feb. 6. Council is expected to vote that day during a 6 p.m. meeting on a final version.
That both spending and revenues were reduced - all tax revenue with two minor exceptions was reduced across the board - shows that council members are providing a realistic expectation of what to expect this year, said Councilman David Kinder, accounts and finance director.
"We're giving the lowest possible number with the hopes that's the worst we can possibly do," Kinder said Wednesday of revenue projections.
One change neither Milbrand nor Kinder wished to comment on Wednesday was a dramatic reduction in salary and benefits of the City Hall secretary position, currently held by Michelle Quinn, human relations specialist.
The original budget for the position's salary was $16,969 in addition to $9,658 for health benefits. That's been reduced in the amended version to $1,916 and $1,610, respectively.
"We're going to be working on personnel in City Hall and that's all I can say," Kinder said, adding that decisions on personnel have not yet been finalized.
Council held an executive session Tuesday for undisclosed personnel matters.
Kinder said the estimated $800,000 in unpaid bills that accumulated by the end of 2013 is still being addressed by council. Controller Gary Haddock, who is on vacation this week, continues to input the data into the city's accounting software. He said a report documenting which bills remain outstanding will be issued to council when it's complete.
Council is still pursuing a loan to settle that debt, a move which was approved by a Northumberland County judge in December. The city continues to work with state Department of Community and Economic Development and Susquehanna Bank to secure the financing, Kinder said. He called Haddock's efforts to gather and document the outstanding bills a "lynch pin" toward receiving the loan.