City costs are up

Anticipating his 2014 budget proposal for Williamsport, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana on Wednesday held a news conference in which he revealed city department spending requests.

Even though they are up, Campana said he will not ask for a real estate tax increase.

Campana, who presented the department expenses as a requirement under the third-class city code, said he will make his budget proposal public on Nov. 21.

Next year’s spending requests total $20.8 million, a $681,606 increase over this year, he said.

William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director, said the city will have sufficient year-end surplus to cover the gap.

The gap is the same amount as the cost of adding two more codes enforcement employees, buying three police vehicles and paying wage increases of 2 to 3.5 percent to unionized city employees and retiring firefighters, Nichols said.

Campana and Nichols declined to talk about the revenue side of next year’s budget picture.

“That’ll be done Nov. 21,” Campana said.

“Based on the expenses, we have the revenue needed to not propose a tax increase,” Nichols said.

The requested spending is 3.3 percent more than that budgeted for this year, Nichols said.

Police expenses are proposed at $8.1 million, or about 39 percent of the budget.

Chief Gregory A. Foresman said the costs are for salaries, benefits and pensions.

“They eat up most of the costs,” he said. “It’s contractual, and costs increase every year.”

Foresman said he also would like to spend money to buy three police cruisers and equip them with updated computers, radio and video technology, cages and molded seats,.

The fire department expenses are anticipated at $6.3 million, or 30 percent of the budget proposal.

“Our costs are due to increased personnel costs,”

said Chief C. Dean Heinbach. “We’ve held our budget either at or below for several years.

“We submitted our budget 3 1/2 weeks ago to the finance department, and it made some changes,” he added.

The department has 33 firefighters and one administrative aide.

The Streets and Parks Department is asking for $3 million, or 15 percent of the proposed expenses.

Campana wants to return to the department one budgeted position. Two positions were eliminated last December, one of whom retired and one who died. Neither of those positions were replaced, said William C. Wright, department general manager.

“The vacancy would be a truck driver position,” he said.

Other departments have requested the following expenses:

The finance department and personnel costs has requested $894,046. The department expenses are for salaries, insurances and and related tax services provided by outside agencies, Nichols said.

Campana said he wants to spend $820,650 on the codes department, which he said grew by four positions since 2008.

The mayor wants to see 12 employees in the department.

Other expenses in general government include $288,348 proposed for the mayor’s office; $260,855 proposed for City Council; $66,405 proposed for the city clerk; and $63,534 proposed for legal matters.

Under the administration, the mayor wants to spend $214,276 on the city recreation department. Expected expenses for information technology are $124,531.

The mayor has requested $130,701 for the controller and $183,177 for the tax collector.