Trouble in Kittatinny

 

The mayor has released his budget proposal for 2015 at a local press conference. It includes some major changes to assist in dealing with the financial stress Kittatinny is currently under.

 

Gustavus G. Petykiewicz had to make some tough decisions while preparing this budget, which allows a total spending of $3,315,946. This is down roughly $100,000 from 2014.

 

A major reasoning for this is because the Susquehanna Steel Corp. took a big loss from the decommissioning of Blast Furnace Unit 1, which in turn laid off 600 local employees and only leaves one unit open. Petykiewicz’s arrangements for the budget depended much on this issue.

 

Also, the overall city tax rate is proposed to increase from 4 mills to 4.3 mills. For example, this means that taxes on a home costing $100,000 in Kittatinny would now be $430 rather than $400.

 

Denelda Penoyer, president of the Kittatinny City Council, says that “in the long term, we need to get more jobs and diversify our work forces and make Kittatinny a place people want to come to. Raising our taxes is the responsible thing to do.

 

There are a lot of things I’m very uneasy about and I can guarantee some things will change. We need input from our citizens. All meetings are open to the public.”

 

Along with the raising of the city tax rate, Petykiewicz is proposing to no longer staff the early police shift from 4 a.m. to noon with Kittatinny officers; rather emergency calls would be handled by the Schuylkill County sheriff’s deputies.

 

Roman Hruska, Chief of Police, stated his feelings on this proposal: “I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived by regular police protection a third of the day.”

 

Petykiewicz explained that “losing a police shift, this is the most difficult part of the budget. If citizens have any alternatives to that, I wish they would submit them.”

 

Hruska also saw in the budget that the mayor’s salary, as well as the city engineer, parks director, city clerk, and Hruska’s have been frozen. He proposed that the mayor take a 10 percent pay cut and believed that all others would do the same.

 

Petykiewicz said he’d be willing to take the pay cut. However; he does not believe that by these non-unionized individuals taking the pay cut would make up for the loss.

 

This also comes after the proposal reflects a reduction in full-time Kittatinny police force from 10 officers to eight.

 

The officers’ wages and benefits are set by a contract with Local 34 of the Pennsylvania Police Association, which expires in June 2016.

 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees wages are proposed to decrease by about $5,000 for 2015. AFSCME wages and benefits are set by a contract with AFSCME Local 644, which expires in March 2016.

 

This figure assumes the layoffs of two AFSCME personnel, one in the city clerk’s office and one in the city engineer’s office.

 

Martha Mittengrabben, president of the AFSCME, has mixed feelings about the budget altogether. She does not want to lay people off, and she does not want to cut salaries.

 

Hruska and the mayor also do not see eye to eye. Not everyone agrees on the mayor’s proposed plan, and some agree with certain points more than others.

 

Petykiewicz has until December 1, 2014 to sign the budget into law. “I cannot force this on people. I need support from the citizens. I come to you with a heavy heart, these are not actions I take lightly”, Petykiewicz said.

 

For the Love of the Game

 

UW-Whitewater Student talks about his passion for ultimate frisbee- an unknown sport to many

Tyler Hebert, a freshman at UW-Whitewater, has a strong love for a sport that many people are unfamiliar with.

Ultimate frisbee was first introduced at a high school in New Jersey. It’s slowly becoming more popular, which is why Tyler decided to join his high school team, the Sun Prairie Cardinals where he became captain soon after.

I decided to quit basketball my junior year and try ultimate. A good friend asked me to play in a pickup game and I fell in love with the sport instantly,” Tyler said.

When I started playing, there were only 8 teams in the state. Last year there was 12 and there now are 16. It’s a sport that’s growing very quickly.”

Picking up the rules and ways of the game quickly, Tyler played on summer teams as well as his high school team. He was invited to try out for the U-19 national team this past January after only playing for three years total.

Tyler plays here at UWW on the men’s club team. This season, the team is traveling to a few different cities around the country for tournament play; one being New Orleans for the Mardi Gras tournament and another being Chicago for the Chicago Invite.

I’m definitely looking forward to New Orleans in a few weeks. Chicago will be a lot of fun as well. There are 64 teams going, so it’ll be cool to see where we’ll place,” Tyler said.

As for this season, Tyler told me he was going to be working on getting into better shape as ultimate entails constant running with no timeouts. He would also like to earn a lead role on the team, which he and only one other freshman start on.

I’m always looking to improve in any areas I can. I really look up to Dave Wiseman who plays for the Madison Radicals. He personally taught me a lot that I know and he’s an amazing role model all around,” Tyler said.

Tyler also mentioned that he has an autographed frisbee from a popular, professional frisbee player, Brodie Smith. He likes to watch his YouTube videos to learn new tricks and moves with the frisbee.

Right now, ultimate isn’t overly popular but I’m willing to do anything I can to work on making it a more known sport here at UWW and elsewhere. People won’t regret giving the sport a chance.”