Meadville Tribune

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November 22, 2012

‘Cut taxes,' Meadville City Council demands

MEADVILLE — “We want a tax decrease,” Meadville City Councilmember Nancy Mangilo-Bittner announced as the latest marathon discussion of the city’s 2013 budget started to wind down. “We’re not there yet.”

In the wake of more than three hours of intense discussion, Councilmember LeRoy Stearns agreed. “You guys have to come up with another mill of tax reductions,” he said, speaking directly to City Manager Joe Chriest, Finance Director Tim Groves and Assistant City Manager Andy Walker. “Where the hell are you guys going to get another $175,000 out of this budget?”

His unanswered question hanging in the air, “That’s your job,” Stearns added.

Minutes later, the session was recessed until Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., when the public is welcome to join council members and city staffers for further discussion in council chambers in Meadville’s new city hall in the heart of Diamond Park.

When the first version of the 2013 budget was presented to council during its Nov. 7 study session, it was $328,000 out of balance, with $9 million in proposed expenditures exceeding the $8.6 million included in the 2012 budget by 4 percent. By late Tuesday evening, revenues equaled expenditures, pending acceptance by the city’s unionized workforce of a change in health insurance coverage that could save the city $150,000 per year.

The rest of the difference was canceled by an extremely advantageous refinancing of city bonds issued in 2002 that will save the city 20 percent on its debt service payments, a reduction of $150,000 in each of the next five years; $40,000 in savings by extending the amortization of the city-owned refuse and recycling carts that are part of the city’s refuse and recycling program for an additional year; and a $10,000 refund from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation after Jim Cooper, the city’s superintendent of public works, discovered inaccuracies in what PennDOT was paying the city for contracted services, including plowing PennDOT roads within city limits.

Chriest said that the union employees had been given until Dec. 1 to decide on whether to accept the insurance change.

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