Shamokin sets meeting to vote on reopening budget
SHAMOKIN - City council has scheduled a special public meeting to discuss potential changes to the 2014 budget. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall and is being advertised for budgetary and general purposes.
The budget is expected to be reopened to potentially end the current furlough of police officers Cpl. Jarrod Scandle and Patrolman Nate Rhodes, who were laid off beginning Monday.
City council has until Feb. 15 to make any changes. Although that's less than one month away, there is just enough time to meet legal requirements.
According to city solicitor Frank Konopka, should council vote to reopen the budget, a new version must twice be adopted before becoming final. And, there's a 10-day window for public review that must be advertised and adhered to between the first and second adoptions of an altered budget.
Mayor William D. Milbrand has frequently stated that the budget would be reopened this month and reviewed by the new version of city council. Two Northumberland County finance employees along with financial consultant Stevens and Lee and representatives of state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) have been working with city officials on budget figures.
Neither council members Barb Moyer nor Charlie Verano have yet seen any findings from the outside consultants, they said separately Thursday. Verano said he expects the findings will be reviewed during the special meeting.
"Hopefully, if they did find more money or whatever, we can get these two cops back on the street," Verano said.
A balanced budget of more than $2.5 million was approved Dec. 23 by the former council. It was derided publicly because it included the furlough of the two full-time police officers.
Also furloughed were part-time special officers Norm Lukoskie and Robert Searls and Ronald Kerstetter, a street department laborer. Code office secretary Kelly Seroski's status was reduced from full-time to part-time with no benefits, as was the still-vacant position of deputy treasurer. All medical and related benefits for members of city council, city controller and the city solicitor were eliminated.
These moves and more were made in an attempt to shed a $616,000-plus budget deficit.