SUNBURY — City property owners should not see a tax increase in 2020 after Treasurer Kevin Troup said Mayor Kurt Karlovich was able to trim more than $100,000 from his police department budget keeping the city within its goal.
"Kurt (Karlovich) is the man of the hour here tonight," Troup said. "He was able to cut his budget, and that took a load of the near $170,000 we needed to ensure taxpayers would not see an increase this upcoming year."
Karlovich shaved the salary of $80,000 for a police chief off of the budget because it wasn't being used and the city will continue to use Officer in Charge Brad Hare to run the department.
"I have a plan to move the department forward and that line item was not part of it," Karlovich said of the police chief position.
The city also saved more than $100,000 in legal fees in 2019 after the firm of Wiest Wiest Benner & Rice, of Sunbury, took over in May 2018, Karlovich said. "Due to the great work of attorney Joel Wiest, the city was able to cut down on legal expenses and was able to handle everything."
The city spoke about the UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury hospital attempting to become a tax-exempt organization, which would cost taxpayers $70,0000. Karlovich and Troup said the city worked out the budget based on the fact the hospital would be granted the tax-exempt status.
"Our city continues to be strong and we are showing the residents their tax money is being well taken care of," Karlovich said. "We immediately worked on this issue as soon as it was being discussed. I hope if UPMC is granted this tax-exempt status that they reach out to the city to invest back into our community."
Karlovich also was able to get one more full-time officer in the 2020 budget, he said.
UPMC appealed to Northumberland County and is awaiting a decision on whether or not they will be approved as a tax-exempt organization.
The well-discussed city surveillance system did not have a line item and will remain offline for the time being, Troup said. The cameras have been subject to a federal investigation but City Administrator Jody Ocker said she and council are meeting with the cameras maker, Mobotix in November to see what is needed and the cost to get them back online.
Troup said once the city gets that figure they can see what needs to be done to get them back to operational.
Councilman Chris Reis said the city is also planning on moving forward with a new police station building and he and Karlovich agreed this would be the number one priority in 2020.
"We are waiting to see what this will cost," Reis said.
The first reading of the budget will be on Oct. 28.