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Middletown Borough Council sets special Jan. 25 meeting to continue deliberations on 2016 budget

Middletown Borough Council has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, in council chambers in the Municipal Buiilding regarding the 2016 budget.


    The new borough council majority that took office this year on Jan. 19 reopened the 2016 budget that the former council had adopted in December.


    Council has a number of changes in mind that will impact the 2016 spending plan, including creating some new positions and altering or eliminating some others.

No increase in the property tax is expected. However, the new council so far is keeping the 1-cent raise in the electric rate that was included in the 2016 budget adopted by the former council.

The plan for the Monday night meeting is for council to finish its deliberations on the 2016 budget, so that the changes can be advertised for at least 10 days to the public, said Council President Ben Kapenstein.


    The 2016 budget could then receive final approval on Tuesday, Feb. 9, during a second special budget meeting to be held that night, Kapenstein said.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016 15:42

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Web sites that show power outages

 Below are links to web sites that show power outages for customers of ppl and Met-Ed.

MetEdoutage banner pa

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016 10:14

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Police arrest one man, seek another in home burglary that occurred in Middletown on Jan. 15

Middletown police have arrested a Pike County man and are seeking a second suspect from Williamsport in connection with attempted home break-ins and one home burglary that occurred south of Main Street in the borough on Jan. 15.

 

Borough police aided by state police Tuesday arrested Anthony Dayquon Moultrie, 20, in Selinsgrove on charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, criminal attempt of burglary, receiving stolen property, and conspiracy of theft by unlawful taking-movable property.

 

Moultrie was arraigned before Dauphin County Night Court District Judge Steven M. Semic  and was placed in the county prison on $75,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 29 before District Judge David Judy.

 

A warrant has been issued for the other suspect, 18-year-old Denzel Cradle of Williamsport, last seen in the Lewisburg area, according to borough police. Cradle is facing the same set of charges as Moultrie. Borough police have also filed an additional set of charges against Cradle, including theft by unlawful taking, theft from a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and access device issued to another who did not authorize use.

 

Cradle is considered armed and dangerous, police say. Anyone with information on Cradle’s whereabouts should call borough police at 558-6900. Police so far have not provided a photo or description of Cradle.

 

The charges against Moultrie and Cradle stem from several reports of attempted home invasions and the home burglary south of Main Street that occurred on Jan. 15, police say. The suspects would knock on the door to see if anyone was home, and then enter if no one answered.

 

Computer equipment and a gun were stolen from the home where the burglary occurred, police said.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2016 08:45

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Winter storm watch announced here

 

BrandyJo 12 10 13Well, it's official. A winter storm watch has been issued Wed., Jan. 20 through Sun., Jan. 24 at 7 a.m. According to the National Weather Service in State College, snow accumulations 6 inches or more are possible.
Snow may begin late Friday afternoon or early evening. The period of intense snow will be Friday evening into Saturday evening. Snow is expected to end late Saturday night.
Winds from the North 10 to 20 mph with gust up to 30 mph are possible.
Hazardous travel conditions are possible and snow drifts may occur along with reduced visibility.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 12:57

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Tax hike postponed, one-cent increase in electric rates may stay in 2016 budget, but otherwise numerous changes proposed in the spending plan by Middletown's new council

 As promised, the new Middletown Borough Council during its Jan. 19 meeting reopened the 2016 budget that had been approved by the old council in December.

An increase in the property tax appears off the table for this year - although it could be in the works for 2017.

However, a majority of the new council favors keeping a 1-cent increase in the electric rate that was included in the budget that the former council adopted. That increase could cost the average residential electric customer in the borough another $12 a month, or up to $144 a year.

Eliminated, new, revised positions in Borough operations

Council took no action on changes to the budget. Instead, council has come up with a lengthy list of proposed changes to the budget - many of them based upon new positions, revisions of existing positions, and current positions that would be eliminated.

Council asked the borough’s current financial advisor, Mark Morgan, to redo the spending plan based upon these proposed changes. Morgan said he thinks he can have that done within 24 hours.

Time is of the essence, as council must approve a final version of the 2016 budget by Feb. 15, Council President Ben Kapenstein said. The spending plan must be advertised for at least 10 days before that final action can be taken, he said.

As a result, Kapenstein said council may need to schedule one and possibly two special meetings on the budget in order to meet that Feb. 15 deadline. 

One meeting could take place as early as this Thursday, Jan. 21, Kapenstein said - in which case a second special budget meeting may not be necessary, as council’s regularly scheduled meeting is on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Proposal to put $725,000 back in budget

One big change compared to the spending plan passed by the previous council is that the 2016 budget will include the annual $725,000 payment from Suez. This is the first year for the annual payments that are to continue throughout the 50-year lease of the borough’s water and sewer systems to Suez.

The former council had concluded that the $725,000 would not be available to the borough’s general fund, but would have to go to the water and sewer authority. Kapenstein said that in his opinion, the money belongs in the general fund, and therefore available to the budget.

The $725,000 back in the budget, coupled with the added revenue from the 1-cent raise in the electric rate, could provide the borough with a slight surplus in the general fund for 2016, Morgan said. 

At the same time, the changes proposed by council could dry up that surplus, and even result in a slight deficit that would have to be made up - most likely either by transferring money from the electric trust, or from the borough’s fund balance which currently totals about $2.3 million. Morgan said he won’t know if the budget is in the black or the red until he runs the new numbers.

Many changes proposed

Here is a list of the changes - so far - that the new council is proposing for the 2016 budget. Some of these are the result of actions that the council took earlier during the same meeting on Jan. 19:

  • Eliminating a contribution of $60,000 to the borough authority
  • Eliminating the position of communications director for an estimated savings of $84,043, including salary and benefits.
  • Eliminating the position of borough secretary for an estimated savings of about $64,000.
  • Increasing by about $40,000 the salary of the borough manager. The borough is currently advertising for the position. The increase would put the salary in the range of $95,000 to $110,000.
  • Adding a new finance administrator position.
  • Eliminating the position of a borough administrator to Suez 
  • Installing an answering machine to handle after hours calls to borough staff.
  • Adding up to $10,000 to cover a new contract with the Humane Society for the placement of lost and stray animals.
  • An unspecified increase in the advertising budget.
  • Money to cover bringing back a borough planning commission, to include fees for a solicitor and a stipend for commission members.
  • Funds to cover a temporary “management advisor” who is to assist in the transition to new borough staff over the next three or four months. Council during the meeting approved a motion to hire as the advisor Bruce Hamer at an hourly pay rate of $32.45 for 30 hours a week. Hamer was the Middletown Borough manager, from 1986 to 1992. He also served on the Middletown Borough Authority in 2008. 
  • Approving in increase in the salary of Police Chief John Bey to $82,000 a year, retroactive to Jan. 1. Council during the meeting approved a new “interim role” for Bey in which he will temporarily take on more responsibility overseeing overall borough operations. Chris Courogen, the borough’s former communications director, remains with the borough as acting borough manager, Kapenstein said during a break in the meeting.
  • Adding health care benefits to the position of Public Works Superintendent. The previous superintendent, Lester Lanman, who resigned in December, received benefits through the military.
  • A $10,000 contribution for 2016 to the Olmsted Regional Recreation Board.
  • “Possible” but unspecified revisions in the police budget.
  • Hiring a first class lineman for the electric department. Morgan was instructed to run a version of the new budget with the lineman position, and one without.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 January 2016 12:18

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