Weissport Council and Weissport Mayor Tina Hagenbuch have a difference of opinion over the 2010 budget.
For the second meeting in a row, Mayor Hagenbuch has refused to sign the tax ordinances for Weissport which means the budget is in limbo for a few more days. Hagenbuch first refused to sign the tax ordinance at the Nov. 29 meeting when council had intended to adopt the budget the first time.
According to Council President Shannon McAward, the next step is that Mayor Hagenbuch must present a written statement outlining her objections to the borough secretary within three days since seven of the 10 required days of receiving the tax ordinance already have passed.
Council then will proceed to a the next step which is to reconsider the budget or override the vote with two-thirds of all members of council must vote affirmatively. That meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21. McAward said that the Mayor's objections must be noted in the minutes of the meeting.
McAward said that the bottom line must stay the bottom line because council will not consider a tax increase.
Council raised taxes last year to cover a budget shortfall due to over spending of the police budget in 2008.
At the meeting held Dec. 7, four of the five council members voted to adopt the budget. Last week the budget adoption stalled, when Sue Pywar was absent, and the remaining members split the vote two to two, with Steve Mansueto and Tommy McEvilly voting against the budget; and McAward and Arland Moyer voting to adopt. Hagenbuch held the tie breaker vote and voted to not adopt the budget citing the that the budget did not have enough funds for police training. She announced that she was planning to veto signing the tax ordinances.
Mansueto was the only council member voting Monday against adoption of the budget.
McAward noted that Mayor Hagenbuch did not attend any of the budget meetings. She also noted that council adoption of the budget is a council administrative action, but that the tax ordinance does require the signature of the mayor.
Hagenbuch's objections focused on the section of the budget that provides funding for police protection, especially the area that would provide payment for training, weapons, ammunition and the costs for JNET.
The millage for 2010 is 8.9 mills, which is the same total as last year's milage. Council anticipates receipts of $144,211.33 in 2010.
In 2010, the budget allocates for $27,193 for police expenses, including police salary.
Hagenbuch said that without money for training of two officers, money set aside for weapons, JNET and ammunition, that "It was doomed to fail."
Hagenbuch also sent controversial remarks to the secretary, Dana Brubaker, saying that Brubaker never signed or mailed the grants which would have provided enough funds for the police department. She also said that Brubaker said that the town did not raise the taxes enough last year. She said that is why the budget was failing.
Brubaker denied that she was asked to mail in any grants. Following the meeting, she went to the file cabinet and displayed the documents that Hagenbuch gave her. One was a copy of a Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) grant for $25,000 that was a shared services grant, which did not have a place for the secretary to sign.
Brubaker noted that when Hagenbuch had given her the copy of the grant, soon afterward Parryville voted not to sign the shared services agreement, which made Weissport ineligible for the grant. Brubaker said she never was instructed to sign the grant or send in the grant as the document she had was only a copy. She also displayed the entire document and there was no section indicated where a secretary was required to sign it.
She also noted that the second document was not a completed grant application, but was a copy of a narrative or letter of intent to apply for a shared services grant.
"I never received the grant nor was I ever asked to send it in," she said. "In all cases of grants, the person applying for the grant is responsible for sending it in. All I ever ask for is a copy for the file."
"I am not taking the blame for the mayor who cannot follow a budget," said Brubaker. "Her irresponsible spending is what is causing Weissport to have no money to fall back on. She is lying and blaming everyone else for the problems she created."