Tyrone councilman-elect takes issue with newly passed 2004 budget

Tyrone’s William Fink, who will sit on the borough’s council beginning in January, took issue with the current member’s decision to use capital reserve funds to balance the budget.
“We’ve taken (more than) $27,000 out of the reserve to balance the budget, council and the mayor have been gracious enough to give up their salaries. Yet, they have voted to give $1,000 raises to non-union employees, not because they were negotiated but because, as council put it during the meeting, ‘we’ve always done it that way’,” said Fink.
Council explained to Fink the raises for non-union employees are similar to those given to union employees and the borough has traditionally handled compensation matters this way.
“I can’t in my mind justify taking money out of the budget to give raises to non-union employees when we have to take money out of the capital reserve (to balance the budget).”
The borough has also frozen the salary of one department head. Council explained the reasoning behind this was the employee had a substantially higher salary than the other department heads. So, as a way of allowing the other employees to “catch up,” it was decided to freeze that salary while allowing the raises to continue for the others.
Fink also had concerns about this idea.
“Regarding freezing a department head’s salary, it doesn’t appear to be an even playing field,” said Fink. “If you’re freezing one (department head’s salary) yet giving others the ability to ‘catch up,’ are you punishing the frozen one?”
Fink also pointed out that it was suggested at a previous meeting, council should consider voting a one-time bonus to the frozen department head, Sewer Department Manager Tim Nulton.
Fink was unaware if any action had been taken regarding the issue. He also offered he’d hate to see anyone lose a job, raise or bonus, but didn’t think the raises or possible bonus where justified when other spending cuts could have been considered.
The Tyrone Borough Council passed the 2004 final budget at Monday’s meeting.
Three ordinances were presented to borough council regarding the borough’s finances including the final budget. Ultimately, the budget was balanced by taking money from the capital reserve and transferring it to the general fund. There were no new taxes for borough residents, although some fee and fine structures were increased.
The ordinances presented included one for the budget itself, plus separate ordinances on 2004 fees and taxes as well as compensation for borough officials and employees. Those ordinances all passed unanimously with some members abstaining from voting on parts of the budget and the compensation issues to avoid conflicts of interest.
The Borough is required by its charter to pass the budget by the 15th of December each year.
In other business, Tyrone Borough Council:
•amended the 2001 Improved Dwellings Altoona and County of Blair Rehabilitation Authority of Housing agreements. The amendment including a change in funding sources to included year 2000 dollars with 2001 CDBG money as part of a reprogramming done earlier this year;
•accepted the 2003 housing agreement between the borough, IDA and COBRAH. It sets forth the duties and responsibilities for all involved parties; identifies funding sources and provides for $516,314.51 to rehabilitate between 18 to 23 houses in the borough;
•awarded a bid in the amount of $13,198 to Cambria Tractor and Equipment for an air compressor to be used by the sewer department;
•delayed action on the appointment of a new full-time police officer due to testing problems. The borough’s secretary was directed to contact Civil Services and have them certify the top three candidates for the position;
•were presented with a draft of an ordinance regarding the elimination of the fire chief’s position;
•voted to re-appoint Roberta Ramsey to the Zoning Hearing Board; and
•voted to re-appoint William Hall to the Tyrone Borough Authority.