To the Editor,
Well as you and the taxpayers in the Borough of Tyrone know by now the 2003 budget worksheets have turned into a proposed budget. That budget was made available for review at the Borough Building at no charge or copying for 25 cents a page. Needless to say Jim Ray and I along with several other folks paid the Borough, got a copy of the proposed budget, and spent our evenings reviewing and calculating the figures provided in the budget document to confirm information provided by the Borough Manager at the November Council meeting.
So here we go with the short version of this approximately 60-page budget document touching on some concerning figures:
• Total wages for 34 full and part-time employees covering all departments: $1,355,500.00
• Total health benefit’s paid for 34 employees all departments: $345,000.00
• This figure also includes health benefits for 4 retired police officers
• Other benefits, life insurance, longevity, FICA, Pensions, etc.: $245,000.00
• The grand total for 34 employees levels off at: $1,945,500.00
This year, according to published reports, the projected increase in health care insurance alone was estimated to be considerably higher across the board. The Tyrone Borough Proposed Budget projects an increase in payments for employee health care insurance alone to be approximately 27.7% or in real dollar figures $77,500.00. Keep in mind this 2003 increase is in addition to the 16% increase in 2002.
The Borough not only pays all (100%) of these health insurance costs for all employees but, they will continue to pay all (100%) of these costs for the next 5 years because our elected official’s have approved a contract with the union that calls for the Borough to pick up all (100%) of the insurance tab no matter how much the health insurance costs go up!!
To the best of my knowledge, the Borough didn’t shop around for lower health insurance options. One would think that with this kind of expense they would at least be looking for the best bang for our buck.
Another interesting page in the budget is the 2003-General Fund. Cash and investments as of January 1, 2003, are listed at $1,368,000.00. Total revenue for 2003 is projected at $1,510,000.00, together the total cash and revenue is $2,878,000.00. Now on the other side of this very thin coin the total expenses projected for 2003 is listed at $2,872,000.00. And with a little subtraction [trained by TAHS math teacher Carl (Zeek) LaPort], cash and investments remaining as of December 31, 2003 will be a whopping $6,000.00. If Zeek was standing in front of the blackboard in this math class, I find myself to wondering who would be getting hit on the top of the head with his eraser.
Keep in mind this is all without the Police budget, they are still in negotiation. When the police union and the Borough finally come to an agreement, this added cost would be in addition to the expenditures above – there always has to be a fall guy. I think we all remember Councilwoman Sarah Jane Miller speaking out at every meeting against this excessive spending and her adamant opposition to approving any union contract that would undoubtedly tie Council’s hands when dealing with any funding or employee matters. It appears no one paid any attention to Mrs. Miller.
I wonder what Mrs. Miller’s position would be on the issue regarding Snyder Township’s question about the Tyrone Fire Agreement? Even I have to wonder about this Borough needing $4,981.00 out of the $19,925.00 requested increase to cover “Administrative Costs”? I really don’t believe that Snyder would be questioning an increase in fire protection costs if the money were going where it should, to the fire departments and not into the Borough’s pockets. This is a mirror image of this Boroughs approach to your “Public Safety/Protection”. And, what about that excuse made by a Borough Official that the rate for Snyder Township fire protection hadn’t changed since 1996? Now all of a sudden the Borough wants to collect for all those years and raise it up 30%, at a rate of 5% for each?
If you have reviewed the proposed budget, you know the Borough is giving away 4% pay raises, paying 100% of all health care costs along with other associated benefit costs, and spending large amounts of money for “Capital Improvements”. When it comes to public safety like Police and, this time fire protection, the Tyrone Borough Council “could,” decide not to provide that protection to our neighboring township, now what’s that all about?
WOW, it might just be time to reevaluate our public safety priorities. We’re talking human life and property verses pocket change!!
Take a minute and look at what has been going on in Snyder Township, the residents have been attending the Township meetings, they have spoken out loud and clear on their budget concerns along with several other issues and, “they have been heard” by their Elected Officials. Is anyone listening down at the Tyrone Borough Building???
— — —
I recently purchased a copy of Tyrone’s proposed budget. I am beginning to see why it takes a borough manager and director of administration to come up with this. They have wage and payroll spread throughout the three seperate “funds” as they like to call them. Water Fund, Sewer Fund, and the “General Fund”. Directors (Department Heads as they are called) are listed totally seperate from hourly employees. So, you have to go here and go there to get the totals. It certainly is not the simplest way to show wages and benefits! Wages are wages and benefits are benefits. List them side by side so the people can see where their gold is going!
Everyone should get their due, so here goes. Kudos to the Mayor and Borough Manager for holding the capitol expense spending in 2002, it certainly was the prudent thing to do with the closing of the Mill. Now the Borough is starting the year with a very commendable buffer of $1,368,000. They managed to save this amount and still purchase two new police cars which I think is wonderful. Now, they want to spend $2,872,000 in 2003, leaving us with a balance of $6,000 to start 2004. Not real smart of them considering the police have not settled their contract yet.
The next statement is purely my own opinion (which is what this forum is about). I think the Mayor, for whatever reason, is willing to risk the safety of this community. Always ready to cut police spending whenever and wherever she can. I simply don’t understand how they plan to spend $1,363,000 on capitol expenses i.e. pool liner, trucks, etc. yet she will fight tooth and nail to keep the police force to one full-time officer, chief (not included). I feel the Mayor and for whatever reason Al Drayovich, who prepared the budget, are spending the reserve down so they can throw their hands up in the air next year (maybe even this year) and say we have to raise taxes.
I urge everyone who lives in the Borough, come to the next meeting! See how they are going to spend your “gold”. I will have them explain to me on record what longevity is. Who gets it, who tracks it and how giving $29,400 of taxpayer money over to employees of the borough, who already get 100 percent paid hospitalization and almost every holiday paid is justified.
Let me leave you with just a couple numbers. We have 34 full-time employees and all part-time employees (park and pool attendants, etc.) with a total payroll of $1,355,500 plus $590,000 in benefits (hospitalization, pension plans, etc.) for a total of $1,945,500. The total operating revenue of the borough is $1,510,000. So, we have to depend on water and sewer customers paying their bills to meet payroll let alone do any capitol expensing.
I think the council can go a long way toward improving the bottom line of this budget. Spending it down to $6,000 is just unconscionable. They should be able to leave $500,000 to $600,000 and not really feel that much of a pinch. They will still be spending approximately $700,000 more than they spent last year.
Hope the numbers didn’t bore you too much, but, it’s our money and our future that they are spending. Please come and see what our future holds.