The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 24, 2013

Sunbury holds line on taxes in 2014

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — SUNBURY — Thanks to the efforts of the City Council, there will be no tax increase in 2014.

The members passed a balanced budget at Monday’s meeting by a 3-2 margin.

Councilmen Jim Eister and Kevin Troup and Mayor David Persing voted in favor of the $4.4 million budget, while Councilmen Todd Snyder and Joe Bartello voted against the spending plan.

Both Snyder and Bartello also saw their last meeting as council members. They did not seek re-election this year. Bartello ran for mayor but was defeated by Persing in the general election.

The city was trying to shave more than $150,000 from the budget. The possibility of adding a police officer was discussed and eventually dismissed.

Last month, Snyder announced the city had a net loss of $158,000, and even though the numbers were preliminary, the future didn’t look bright unless some cuts were made.

With the recent homicide investigation, the city has spend nearly $20,000.

The city was able to trim expenses and ended up being $42,000 short. Thanks to a surplus from last year, the city was able to pay off the debt and give employees a 2-percent raise, Troup said.

“This is great for the city,” he said. “I am so happy to be part of things here, and I will continue to try and do the best I can for this city.”

In November, Troup won election as city treasurer, so he will leave the council Jan. 1.

The police department did not get a new officer in the new spending plan and $24,000 was cut from Sunbury Revitalization Inc. The city decided to go a different route and put $13,000 in an account for the riverfront’s economic development in 2014.

During a recent budget meeting, officials said they felt SRI was not promoting the riverfront properly so the city acted and is now looking at potential promoters to help plan activities at the riverfront.

“We are going to try some different avenues,” Troup said. “We think the riverfront can be a great resource to the city, and we want to utilize it as much as possible.”

SRI has held some events at the riverfront, including a recent wine and beer festival that raised about $11,000, but SRI did not provide the city with a complete schedule of events for 2014 and council members decided it would be easier if the city took control of the promotions.

The members agreed that the entire burden could not be placed on SRI to generate money from the riverfront, and that’s why they stepped in.

The next council meeting is Jan. 13, and it will see new members Ric Reichner and Dale Henry joining Eister and Persing. The council has been seeking candidates to replace Troup.