Wilkes-Barre ended April with more than $9 million balance

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — The city’s fund balance remained over $9 million in the black through April, though it was down slightly from the previous month.

Four months into the year, the city posted a balance of $9.2 million, down $108,128 from March, according to a draft financial report for April.

The report listed $19.9 million in revenues and approximately $10.7 million in expenses through April 30 — including roughly $26,000 for a review of the police department. The city has not released that report publicly, but local newspapers obtained a copy and made it available for public view.

Property and earned income taxes are the city’s main revenue sources. In addition, Wilkes-Barre took out a $3 million Tax Anticipation Note in January to carry it through the first few months until tax revenue started to come in.

The city collected $9.4 million in property taxes or 81 percent of the $11.6 million budgeted. The total was $152,892 less than what the city collected through April 2017.

On the other hand, earned income tax revenue totaled $4 million or approximately 31 percent of the $13.1 million budgeted. The city was $240,829 ahead of last year’s total for the same four-month period.

Those taxes were not raised this year. But to balance the $49.4 million budget, the hourly rate for meter parking was doubled to $2 and the garbage bag fee was increased by 60 cents.

As of the end of April, the city collected $241,645 of the $1 million budgeted for parking meter revenues this year. The total was $74,388 more than in the same four-month period last year.

Meanwhile, the city collected $328,790 of the $1.6 million budgeted for garbage bags. The four-month total was $90,683 ahead of last year’s number.

With a combined total of $8.6 million, salaries and benefits accounted for the majority of the expenses, according to the draft report. The total was $2.1 million more than the previous month.

Among the expenses was the $26,212 budgeted for the review of the police department by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The line item entry for independent consultant under city council’s expenses was paid in full.

PCPA produced a report that was provided to council and other city officials, but not released to the public under the state’s Right to Know law. The report was critical of Police Chief Marcella Lendacky and former Commander of Patrol Ron Foy, stating they lacked the professional qualifications for their jobs and caused a rift between the police administration and the rank-and-file members.

The report did not call for the removal of Lendacky or Foy. But she notified Mayor Tony George, who appointed her chief in early 2016, that she would retire June 3 from her $95,481-a-year job. The city is in the process of hiring a new chief.

George, who also appointed Foy in July 2016, eliminated his commander spot in a departmental restructuring and demoted him to his old job of detective that pays $11,100 less than the $82,154 he was making annually.

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By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.