Shickshinny budget holds line on taxes

December 20, 2012

SHICKSHINNY – Borough council enacted a 2013 budget Wednesday night that proposes $238,820 in spending and does not raise taxes.

The property tax rate remains at .9175 mills for the general fund and .2154 mills for street lighting expenses. A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.

Overall, the plan, as devised by outgoing Secretary/Treasurer Melissa Weber is balanced with income projected at $238,820.

Weber's estimates for revenue include $69,928 from a trust fund established by the late Forrest Garrison, a millionaire philanthropist who grew up in Shickshinny. Weber said the Garrison fund helps to pay for the borough's insurance package, including workers compensation, and, among other things, the fire hydrant system.

Other major revenue-producers include a per capita tax and a 1 percent earned income tax ($65,000). Weber also anticipates $14,000 being realized from demolition permits for the planned razing of 14 additional housing units damaged in the September 2011 flood.

The budget was approved with little debate, although the same can't be said of issues presented by the state Department of Environmental Protection that could affect the proposed Keystone Bank building on South Main Street. According to a letter from DEP, new connections to the borough's sewer system are being restricted because the treatment plant is overloaded.

DEP said it will prohibit further connections and it wants improvements made to the treatment plant and a detailed plan of action from borough officials.

According to comments at the meeting, the former Hasay auto dealership building, which is the planned site for the bank, was never tied into the sewer, thus bank officials now need to include a sewer hook-up in their construction plan.

Councilman Mike Steeber said the problem doesn't stem from the system being over-taxed, but rather from an infiltration of surface water or drainage flow from residential housing. He said there has been an increase in clear water infiltrating to the treatment plant.

There is water intruding on the system, Steeber said. We have to investigate and locate the sources in order to solve this problem. Steeber said the plant isn't beyond capacity as DEP states.

In other action:•

• Council appointed Wendy Kramer of the Harveyville area as secretary/treasurer, succeeding Weber, whose retirement becomes effective in January. It was stated that Kramer will work on a part-time basis at a rate of $14 per hour.

• Council accepted the resignation of attorney Jeff Malak as solicitor.

• There was discussion from the public on building codes issues at a house at 158 N. Canal St.

• Mayor Beverly Moore asked resident Clarence Lewis to submit in writing allegations he posed on Dec. 4 against a borough police officer.