Facing deficit, Tyrone Borough looks at options

Tyrone Borough Council worked on 2006 budget worksheets at its meeting earlier this week.
What they found was the borough is facing a deficit of more than $102,000 in its budget. Council members engaged in a back and forth regarding the deficit and questioned what steps had already been undertaken to close the gap. In previous years, Tyrone has tapped into its capital reserve to balance the budget. However, whether or not the borough goes in that direction this time remains up in the air.
Concerns were raised about using the capital reserve or “cushion” year in and year out to overcome budget deficits.
The possibility of covering the deficit through a tax increase was floated. Exactly, what type of tax or the amount of the increase, if council would go that route, also remained undecided after more than 90 minutes of discussion.
After the meeting, councilman Mark Kosoglow said, “I don’t want any tax increase. If you don’t have the money, you don’t do the stuff.”
He said if it did become necessary to raise taxes, he would favor raising taxes for both property owners and wage earners rather than singling out one over the other.
“I don’t thing it’s fair to lay the burden on one group versus the other,” said Kosoglow.
During the meeting, Kosoglow suggested to have one group support the others was similar to socialism.
Another council member had a different view.
“I know Mark (Kosoglow) talked about socialism,” said councilman William Latchford. “(But) when I look at the community of Tyrone being an elderly community, sometimes you have to look out for people who can’t do stuff on their own.
“If you look at a property owner who is only making a couple of thousands of dollars a year to make their bills, tossing more money on them adds more burden to them.
“This is going to be a tough winter,” said Latchford. “If we are going to be doing something to somebody, I’d like to see it done to the people who can hopefully afford it.”
Council discussed the idea of raising the Earned Income Tax to what would amount to about a $2 a week increase for those subject to paying it.
“When it was asked of me would I pay an extra hundred dollars a year, I said yes because someone else can’t,” said Latchford.
Another idea floated during the budget discussions was the possibility using an emergency municipal services tax. The tax can be imposed on those who work in the borough regardless of whether they live in the borough or not.
Municipalities can charge up to $52 a year. Currently, the borough charges a $10 occupational privilege tax. The EMS tax would replace that tax. If Tyrone would go with the $52 amount, it was estimated the additional monies could be used to take care of a good part of the deficit.
There are certain circumstances that may allow some individuals to be exempt from the emergency municipal services tax.
State lawmakers adopted the new tax in 2004 to help local governments gain more funding for street repairs and support for police and emergency services.
Council made no decisions on the budget. Instead, they referred it to back to borough administrators. Council was informed borough officials had already worked on the budget to bring the deficit down to the $102,000 figure.
Council will have to take some action in early December in order to adopt a proposed budget and make it available to the public. Council would then have to adopt a final 2006 budget by the end of the year.