Emmaus Borough Council has put together a lean and mean budget for 2013 by all accounts and has pulled off nothing short of a miracle – taxes will not go up, no services will be cut and the 2013 budget is coming in at $34,000 less than the 2012 budget.
“The department heads have been fantastic,” Budget and Finance Chair Brian Holtzhafer said at Monday night’s council meeting. “This is by far the toughest budget I have worked on.
“We did not cut services and no one has had to lose a job over this. But, there was no fat left to cut. We had to make some cuts that I wasn’t happy with, but they had to be made to keep a balanced budget.” he said.
Some of the cuts included in the proposed 2013 budget include:
- Elimination of the paid overnight standby for volunteer firefighters. The move is expected to save upward of $50,000.
- Elimination of a $5,000 accident and sickness insurance policy for the fire department. Everything covered in the policy is also covered by workers' compensation, according to Borough Manager Shane Pepe.
- Removal of the Gamewell System of fire call boxes from telephone poles in the borough. Holtzhafer described the system as outdated in a day and age when most people understand the process of dialing 911 in an emergency and the majority of people carry cell phones. About six call boxes will remain in borough businesses, as the businesses are paying a fee to have them, which generates revenue for the borough. The borough will look to sell the remaining 40 or so boxes as a novelty or collectible item, according to Holtzhafer, who says they may earn the borough about $100 apiece.
In addition, council agreed to explore the possibility of selling a 16-acre borough property on S. 2nd Street across from Unami Rod and Gun Club. Council also authorized Pepe to look into the value of timbering the property.
Councilmen Wesley Barret and Brent Labenberg and Mayor Winfield Iobst all expressed opposition to the timbering idea.
Plus, council will gather information about the possible sale of a 53-space parking lot in the 500 block of Jubilee Street. Research will also be done into the viability of individually renting parking spaces in the lot.
Council passed the proposed 2013 budget by a 6-0 vote Monday night. The budget is scheduled for a final vote Dec. 17.
Taxpayers can review the proposed 2013 budget between now and then in Emmaus Borough Hall.
Councilman Nathan Brown was absent from Monday night’s meeting.