Final Operating Budget Workshop Has Increase Of $93.10

Update (03/19/2016): Adjustments made after Wednesday night’s budget meeting reduced the impact from $93.37 to $93.10

Last night’s final operating budget before its introduction next week reduced the estimated tax impact to a $93.10 increase for a house assessed at the new average assessed value of $253,000. That amount was $43.52 than the original increase for the first budget workshop held in February.

The amount to be raised by taxes decreased by $9,831. There was also a decrease of $2,000 for garbage collection since the bid for bulk pick-ups came in for the same amount as last year ($395,000). The Casano Community Center’s budget was lowered by $3,600 and the celebration of public event decreased by $4,000. This reduction was achieved by combining certain cultural events.

A review of mandatory increases as well as decreases revealed that they accounted for almost 77% of the $93.10 tax impact.

DescriptionIncrease AmountTax Impact
Salaries & Wages
Master Plan Review
Fire Hydrant Services
Telephone (Other Expenses)
PERS (Other Expenses)
PFRS (Other Expenses)
Social Security
DCRP (Other Expenses)
Implementation of Fair Share Housing Plan
Group Insurance Plan (Other Expenses)
Health Benefit Waivers (Other Expenses)
Workman's Comp Insurance (Other Expenses)
Other Insurance
Bond Principle
Bond Interest
Reserve for Uncollected Taxes

Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Mark Pasquali made his case to hire three employees – one as a replacement for an employee who resigned and two as new hires. Originally the superintendent had requested two laborers and one equipment operator. Mr. Pasquali read from a prepared statement stating that in 2009 the DPW had 16 employees and currently it has 11, including himself, the assistant superintendent, and the clerk. Over the years the three (3) part-time custodians were outsourced and two (2) equipment operators who retired were not replaced. An apprentice operator, a laborer, and a laborer/helper are positions that are not filled which were in 2009.

It was during this discussion that an exchange between First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola and Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky left the room silent for over 10 seconds when it was done. It had to with the assistant superintendent Richard Graves. No one on the governing body mentioned the name but Councilman Meola inquired about the status of a test that the assistant superintendent was scheduled to take. He asked, “How are we standing with the assistant superintendent?”

Councilman Petrosky responded curtly, “He’s staying.”

“Did he pass?,” asked Councilman Meola.

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey interjected, “Actually, I don’t think we can talk about it.”

“We don’t have to,” continued Councilman Meola, “Just an answer – yes or no.”

“He’s staying,” retorted Councilman Petrosky, “That’s all you have to know for now.”

“No, I don’t. I have to know if he passed or no.”

“I’ll tell you after,” stated Councilman Petrosky, “He’s staying!”

Fifth Ward Councilman Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley asked , “What does that means?”

“I don’t know,” commented Councilman Meola.

“He’s staying as the assistant,” said Councilman Petrosky.

The meeting continued after the brief pause with Councilwoman Storey asking what the outlook was for retirements over the next couple of years and Third Ward Councilman Ryan Kelly asking about how the new hires would cut overtime.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ken Blum stated, after reviewing the books, that overtime in 2015 was $49,683 and $57,923 in 2014. So far, this year, overtime due to the snow storm is at around $18,000.

Councilman Meola remarked, “I think we should take – and this is just my opinion – I think we should take smaller steps. Instead of getting two people we should just get one and train one of the other guys and, if need be, we can hire another one.”

Councilwoman Storey inquired about the cost for the new hires with benefits. CFO Ken Blum stated that with a start date of April 4th, the cost for a laborer with Social Security would be $36,104.32 and an equipment operator with Social Security included would be $52,149.97 for a total of $88,254.29 for both. This discussion was simply for the two new hires since the pay and cost for the other laborer would already be on the books for the employee who resigned. A straw poll of the governing body had the majority agreeing to hire three laborers at a cost savings of $16,000. Councilmen Meola and Shipley had recommended two hires instead of three.

The Casano Community Center Director Rupen Shah along with Tina Schwartz from the Recreation Department were next to discuss their budget requests. Mr. Shah kept Zumba, Zumba Gold, and line dancing but lessened the two latter classes to once a week, resulting in a reduction of $3,600. The Celebration of Public events had its budget lessened by $4,000. This was done by combining cultural events and cutting the number of car shows from four to two for the year. The changes and associated cost savings are listed below:

  • St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon was originally budgeted at $1,500 but the event received enough donations to cover the entire event ($1,500 decrease)
  • Hispanic Heritage Festival combined Cinco de Mayo, Puerto Rican Day, Peruvian Day, and Colombian Day for $2,000 cost savings.
  • European Heritage Festival combined Polish & Slavic Day along with Italian Day for a reduction of $1,000.
  • Two car shows reduced that budget by $500.
  • Memorial Day had its budget increased by $1,000 to cover food and live entertainment.

The Recreation Committee had the $1,500 it asked for to cover summer events removed with the objective to have Rupen Shah try to get enough donations to cover them.

With that, the 2016 operating budget was completed and it will now be introduced at the March 24th Mayor & Council meeting. It is scheduled to be adopted in May.

The other half of the budget, capital, will begin meeting on March 31st at 6:30 p.m. to discuss capital purchases.