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Morning Sun
  • Girard council closes in on completing 2013 budget

  • The Girard City Council moved closer toward working out the city’s 2013 budget during a special session Monday evening.



    Randall Phillips, CPA, of Diehl Banwart Bolton, PA, was present at the start of the session to go over the proposed 2013 budget, which was prepared from budget forms provided by the city, as well as estimates provided by the county and state.

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  • The Girard City Council moved closer toward working out the city’s 2013 budget during a special session Monday evening.
    Randall Phillips, CPA, of Diehl Banwart Bolton, PA, was present at the start of the session to go over the proposed 2013 budget, which was prepared from budget forms provided by the city, as well as estimates provided by the county and state.
    Phillips said that the proposed budget would keep the city’s mill levy about the same as the previous year.
    He noted that the Girard Public Library, set statutorily at eight mills, will have a budget very similar to last year.
    “We know certain things will go up,” Phillips said. “Health insurance comes to mind.”
    He cited $44,000 in additional health premiums for city employees, and city administrator Gary Emry spoke up about that.
    “There is a policy issue to take into consideration,” Emry said. “We had almost a 12 percent increase in health insurance a few years ago. When is enough enough? I can no longer say to you as an administrator that we take this as we go along. Do we shop our insurance, or shift to a different carrier? Employees don’t want to lose their provider or have increased premiums.”
    Council member Susan Thom said that it wouldn’t hurt to look around.
    “If somebody says the coverage is identical but cheaper, I would want to look at that,” she said.
    Employee pay increases were another issue, with mayor Maurice Harley noting that 2 percent pay increases were in the city’s budget last year.
    Thom said she was of the opinion that the city should not give pay raises this year.
    “We’ve done it the past two years and we’ve absorbed an enormous insurance increase and did not have to pass it on to employees,” she said.
    Council member Dave Garrett agreed with her, while members Sharon Mattson and Melody Cherry favored 1 percent pay increases. This left the deciding voice to the mayor.
    “I’d like to see a 1 percent increase,” Harley said.
    The prepared proposed budget includes increased salaries and payroll taxes for a 1 percent increase, which would cost the city approximately $10,000 additional costs in tax levy funds and $8,400 in non tax levy funds.
    There was also extensive discussion on various capital improvement projects, based on an estimated $500,000 available in the capital improvement budget. Emry stressed the need to prioritize these items.
    “A new street sweeper is a good selection to fund,” he said. “The one they have was purchased used in 1998 or so.”
    Emry also discussed rehabilitation of the city swimming pool, estimated to run about $100,000 and include sandblasting and painting of the interior, replacing diving boards and adding more seating.
    Page 2 of 2 - Thom brought up additional capital improvement projects, including $50,000 for engineering the downtown revitalization project and cart paths at Crawford Hills Golf Course.
    “We could table the cart paths, but I don’t want it to go away all together,” she said. “Maybe we could table it until 2014, and then just do it.”
    Mattson also doesn’t want that project lost.
    “With all the work we’ve done out there and that beautiful club house, it could be the shining star of the community,” she said.
    Other capital improvement projects listed include purchase of 10 sets of  protective fire gear for $23,000, work on the north end of the power plant, roof repairs at the Girard City Hall, remodeling of the city clerk’s office and handicap accessibility.
    “It’s hard to prioritize without knowing the dollars we’ll have,” Harley said. “We don’t know we’ll have $500,000.”
    However, he did suggest that some big purchases be broken up into multiple-year funding rather than paid for in one year.
    “With the life of a street sweeper, you could break it up into five years,” Harley said.
    The proposed budget will undergo additional revisions, and is scheduled to be approved in the regular council meeting on July 30 and published on Aug. 5. A public hearing for hearing and answering any objections of taxpayers related to the budget will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Girard City Hall.

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