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Tamaqua Council increasing money for library

As Tamaqua makes its final additions and subtractions to the 2018 budget, one area of the community is in dire need of financial assistance. The borough has an annual allocation of $5,000 to the Tamaqua Public Library.

Councilman Micah Gursky pointed out that this has been the borough’s contribution, but they will be increasing it to $6,000 for 2018. Gursky asked that neighboring communities that are included in the library’s service area consider increasing their annual allotment, as well.

“The county gives $5,092. Rush (Township) has contributed nothing yet, although they usually do. The school district, $3,500. Walker (township), $300. West Penn contributed $500. Schuylkill (Township) doesn’t contribute,” he said.

Borough Manager Kevin Steigerwalt presented the first draft of the 2018 budget to council this month. The estimated revenues for the general fund are $3,539,779, with expenditures of $3,648,748, leaving a $108,748 shortage in general funds. Steigerwalt calculated the budget based on the same tax rate as 2017, which is 21.75 mills, 20.25 mills for general purposed, 1 mill for the building and equipment fund, and 0.50 for the Wabash Capital Improvement fund.

During the regular meeting, Steigerwalt noted that the recent Wabash tunnel improvement project had been completed, and the borough is pleased with the work.

“It’s a shame that most people will never see it, because it’s first-rate,” he said.

Some changes in the budget for 2018 include the anticipated retirement of one full-time police officer, and no additions to staffing, which will result in a decrease in full-time base wages of $24,915. Even though health insurance premiums for the police department are increasing, due to personnel and enrollment changes, the annual premium will actually decrease by $3,300.

Health insurance for the nonuniform employees will also be increasing, but several retirees will also be removed from the plan at the end of 2017. The annual premium will increase by $15,300, but employee contributions will increase from $5,070 to $57,100. Dental insurance premiums will remain approximately the same.

Appropriations to the fire companies, fire police and rescue squad will remain the same as 2017. The downtown appropriation will be $8,500, which is also the same as 2017.

The borough is adding a Streetlight Project Loan account, which will pay for the streetlight acquisition and LED conversion project.

The borough expects to receive a liquid fuels tax grant in the amount of $212,800 in 2018.

The borough will be meeting to review and modify the tentative budget as needed over the rest of the month, with the adoption of the proposed budget set to happen later this month. At that point the budget and tax ordinance will be available for public inspection. There was not much discussion of the budget as council members had just received it for review.