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Muncy Borough accepts tax increase, shuts off street lights and votes to lower speed limit

By Staff | Nov 15, 2011

MUNCY – Muncy Borough Council has accepted a draft of the proposed general budget for 2012, which will include a real estate tax increase from 3.0 to 3.5 mills.

There has not been a tax increase since the early 2000’s, according to Jeff Sholtis, borough treasurer.

The budget, which is subject to change before the final acceptance by council in December, shows an increase of more than $191,900 from the 2011 budget, but balances out at $1,012,650 for 2012.

Many factors determined the decision to increase taxes, most of which include the hit the borough took from flood damage, as well as a basic cost-of-living increase and road repairs that are a must for the coming year.

Roads have become an issue in the borough. Council has put $8,000 toward the repair of roads and bridges and $12,000 into the repair and maintenance of storm drains.

Another proposed budget change includes the addition of $4,000 to the emergency fund, which had only $1,000 budgeted in 2011. The addition mainly is due to damages the borough endured from flooding, according to Sholtis.

“We did get nailed with flood expenses, so we put $5,000 in an emergency fund, but we spent approximately $60,000 for the flood (repairs and cleanup),” Sholtis said.

He said the idea is to build on the fund each year in hopes of being prepared in the event of another emergency.

Sholtis said a new sewer authority, West Branch Regional, plans to build a sewer plant in the borough in 2012, which also will affect the budget. “The plant will serve Muncy, Montgomery and two other joining townships.”

The proposed budget is open for public inspection at the borough office, 14 N. Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. The final budget will be adopted at the Dec. 6 council meeting.

Council members also agreed to look into the temporary shut-off of 42 street lights in the borough, which could potentially save the borough a substantial amount of money. The cost for the electricity for street lights is budgeted at $37,500, a substantial cost to the borough, which may be drastically cut by shutting off more than 40 street lights that are deemed as unnecessary lighting.

Mary Lynn Rager, acting borough manager said that there are many street lights near “already well-lit parking lots as well as several that are blocked by trees, and many of these lights are on the list for potential shut-off, which could save the borough a lot of money.”

There will be a temporary shut-off for a trial period of about two weeks. Rager will contact PPL Electric Utilities to narrow down a period of time in which they can do the shut-off, which has the potential to save the borough a good portion of the $37,500 already budgeted for the electricity to keep the street lights on.

Council also approved the request by the police department to change all 35 mph speed limit signs on Main and Water streets within the borough to 25 mph, in the hopes of slowing motorists down when traveling through town. They voted 7-0. Voting yes were members Dana Bertin, Jonathan Ott, Richard Baker, Elaine McAleer, Galen Betzer, Linda Stein and Brandy Kift.

Rager will also look into getting radon test kits for the borough building, due to the presence of radon in the basement of a neighboring home.

Police Chief Richard Sutton said the Halloween parade and trick-or-treating went very well, with no major problems besides a few smashed pumpkins and minor eggings.

Sutton said traffic was not bad and suggested that maybe next year the borough might hold the parade on the Saturday before Halloween to spread out the activities of the holiday.

He also said he believes that having trick-or-treat on the same night as neighboring communities like Montgomery and Hughesville, reduces carpooling and helps with safety issues.

Council also approved to change payroll services to Keystone Payroll out of State College, which is contingent on if the company can track vacation and sick pay.

Council Vice President Galen Betzer expressed a few concerns to possibly bring to the attention of the police department at a later time, including the issue of a few residents parking their vehicles on their front lawns instead of on the street or in a driveway and also vehicles being parked downtown all day without receiving a parking ticket.