Days after the state deadline to adopt a final 2013 spending plan, those members of Lansford Borough Council who attended a special public meeting on Thursday rejected a proposed budget crafted by council President Rose Mary Cannon.
Council members Tommy Vadyak, Danielle Smith, and Samantha Yasson voted to reject the budget. Cannon favored it. Council members Andrew Snyder, Lenny Kovatch and Mary Soberick were absent.
The rejection drew anger and frustration from Cannon.
"I'm done," she said after the meeting. "I've done everything I can, and it will now be up to Mr. Vadyak and his cronies to do the budget."
According to state law, a borough's new budget must be on public display for 10 calendar days, then be adopted by Jan. 1, 2013. Because the borough has yet to have a spending plan in place, it cannot borrow money in anticipation of tax revenue, nor can it make new purchases. It cannot be eligible for grants or funding because it has yet to complete the 2011 audit. It can, however, pay utility bills and meet payroll expenses.
"They are putting the Borough of Lansford in a grave situation," Cannon said of the opposing council members. "I've done everything I can this year to help, and I've gotten no cooperation."
Council is expected to discuss the 2013 budget, or the lack thereof, when it meets next at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Cannon's frustration with the budget process became evident as she spoke publicly on Thursday. She said that of the half-dozen or so budget meetings planned, only two, and less often three, council members attended.
Further, secretary-treasurer Beth Seymour remains out on extended sick leave. An accountant did come in to help, Cannon said.
She said she put together a spending plan over the holidays, despite battling the flu.
That preliminary budget called for a drop in the tax rate, from the current 33.47 mills to 32.91 mills. The proposal breaks down to 26.32 mills for general purposes; 1.4 mills for debt; 0.61 mills for parks and recreation; 1.20 mills for fire protection; 2.78 mills for lighting; 0.1 mill for the Panther Valley Public Library; and 0.50 mill for the pension fund.
Cannon's proposal estimated a balanced budget, with total revenues and expenditures of $1,474,446.
She said she restored $10,000 for part-time police officers.
"Doing the budget, I saw the money was there," she said.
Vadyak opposed the spending plan, citing the lack of numbers for the sanitation fund, the part-time police money, and incomplete figures. Cannon acknowledged the spending plan has yet to be finalized, but said the information was not yet available.
At Thursday's meeting, borough businessman Bob Silver questioned Cannon as to whether there would be a carry-over from 2012. Cannon said that while she lacked final amounts, it appears that there would be enough money to pay the bills, and that little debt would be carried over.
Lansford has had a tough time coming up with spending plans for the past several years. It's been hard to get council members to attend budget meetings, and records were a mess, with missing or inaccurate information.
The borough had its hands full crafting a budget this year, too. On Oct. 31, auditors Maillie Falconiero & Co., of Pottstown, Montgomery County, abruptly quit, further delaying completion of the 2011 audit a crucial component of budget planning.
Cannon on Dec. 19 asked council to hire Hutchinson, Gillahan & Freeh of Quakertown, Bucks County, as replacement auditors, but her proposal was met with several moments of dead silence.
The continued lack of a 2013 budget means the borough continues to operate on its 2012 spending plan. That includes a 33.47 mill property tax, which meant the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 paid $836.75 last year, up from $811.75 in 2011.