Police Chief Furious Over City Budget

Financial woes bring about a controversial proposed budget for the City of Kittatinny, and many of the city’s key figures are unhappy with the mayor’s ideas.

With the closing of a blast furnace from the Susquehanna Steel Corporation removing 600 jobs, many families are struggling to make ends meet, and property values in Kittatinny are over $100,000 lower than they were last year.

“This is a financial emergency,” said Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz. “These are not actions I take lightly.”

One notable change would be a change in the city tax rate from 4 mills, to 4.3 mills. This area is subject to debate, as Denelda Penoyer, president of the Kittatinny City Council, believes the tax rate should be nearer to 5 mills.

Another hit to the pocketbook will come from the new method of garbage pickup. Users will now have to pay for garbage removal on their own. A bill will be given to each household at the end of every month for garbage pickup. This will take garbage pickup off of the city budget and save the city money, but will add an extra $35 charge for citizens of Kittatinny.

The police early shift will no longer be covered by Kittatinny police under the proposed budget. Instead, to save money, two officers will be laid off, and the early morning shift, 4 a.m. to noon, will be given to the Schuylkill County Sheriff on a contract basis. Roman Hruska, chief of police in Kittatinny, does not support this decision.

“I cannot stand idly by, and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection for one-third of the day,” Hruska said.

Having Schuylkill County Sheriff handle the early morning shift means there is no guarantee that a police officer will be near Kittatinny in the event of an emergency.

Kittatinny will also be purchasing new equipment under the proposed budget. These purchases include a new police cruiser, new mowers, a combination dump truck/snow plow and a drivable weed removal vehicle for White Deer Lake. All of these purchases would total over $325,000.

Several more of the city’s key figures were against the mayor’s proposed budget including Martha Mittengrabben, president of AFSCME Local 644, and Bjarne Westhoff, president of the Pennsylvania Police Association Local 34. Both of which will be experiencing layoffs of union workers under this proposed budget.

All figures speak of an attitude of shared sacrifice to weather the financial difficulties. Both Chief of Police Hruska and Mayor Petykiewicz have agreed to take a 10 percent pay cut, and urge other members of the city government to do the same.

It is important to note that all aspects of this proposed budget are subject to change, and that the mayor as well as the members of city council urge citizens to speak their minds about the contents of the budget. A hearing schedule will be released to the public in the coming days.


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