Oct 11 2016

Proposed budget faces criticism

Published by at 4:53 pm under Uncategorized

Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz released his proposed budget for 2017 yesterday prior to the city council meeting and has faced harsh criticism and backlash.

Tax increases, lay-offs, and additional bills are just a few of the biggest changes that are in the proposed budget for the city of Kittatinny.

“It is with a heavy heart that I propose this new budget for our beloved Kittatinny,” said Petykiewicz while addressing the city council and towns people.

With the decrease in the tax base due to August’s closure of a furnace at Susquehanna Steel Corp., mayor Petykiewicz has proposed to raise taxes from 4 mills in 2016 to 4.3 mills in 2017. This tax increase will add $30 to the end-of-the-year bill.

In addition to the 600 jobs lost with the furnace closure, two police officers and two AFSCME personnel, one city clerk, and one city engineer, will be laid off as well to lower the spending. Schuylkill County sheriff’s deputies will address emergency call when needed in Kittatinny.

To save more money on spending, many city workers will have their salaries froze.

Kittatinny will save about $187,000 on garbage pickup but will no longer have taxes pay for the service. It will become a user fee and be an additional line of $35 per month on each tenant’s water bill. Tioga Sanitation Comp. will continue to provide service.

Petykiewicz believes that the town is in a financial emergency. By adding in tourism and increasing parking fees/tickets and police citations, Petykiewicz said it would help close the budget hole.

Petykiewicz looks to the future by increasing and promoting tourism to rebrand the town.

While Mayor Petykiewicz look to the future, Chief of Police of Kittatinny, Roman Hruska, looks at the present. Hruska opposes the proposal and is unhappy.

“I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection,” Hruska said.

Hruska believes that the lack of officers the town at a higher risk of crime and most importantly, peoples’ lives are in danger.

In order to saves the two officers’ jobs, Hruska said, “I will take a 10 percent cut in pay if the mayor does.”

Denelda Penoyer, president of Kittatinny City Council, wants to challenge the mayor. Penoyer will oversee the budget proposal and changes.

“I think taxes should go higher to 5 mills,” said Penoyer.

Penoyer also wants to raise money to save the police officers’ jobs. Martha Mittengrabben, president of AFSCME Local 644, would like to save the jobs of the city personnel who are in her local union.

“It is our job to protect the interest of our members and our city must sacrifice together in order to rebuild itself,” said Mittengrabben.

Once city council and the mayor can come to agree on terms, the new budget will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

If you would like to know more or share your thoughts, attend the city council meetings held every Tuesday at 6 p.m.

 

 

 

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