Mayor’s cost plan just starting point for 2014 city budget

Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana last week set out the starting points for the 2014 city budget. The mayor laid out a proposed 3.3-percent spending increase that includes money to hire two more codes enforcement employees, three police vehicles and wage increases of 2 to 3.5 percent to unionized city employees.

The mayor says this can be done without a tax increase, with a sufficient year-end surplus available to pay for the spending increase. The revenue side of the budget will be revealed Nov. 21.

We hope this is all just a starting point for the city’s budget talks. Our wish this budget season would be for the city’s spending and revenue plan to be worked out on a cooperative basis with greater input from City Council.

The president and vice president of council have proposed the hiring of four additional codes personnel to handle more intensive inspections throughout the city, particularly involving rental properties. The city has a heroin problem to address. There are a host of infrastructure and personnel issues, and a looming pension shortfall. Those issues are best addressed with input from multiple places, not just the administration. Just because the city has a strong mayor form of government doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from greater input beyond the administration, particularly concerning a budget that is limited by a strained tax base and expensive issues.

Williamsport is a city with serious issues and problems. It also is a city with great potential. Cooperation between the administration and council is the clearest path to overcoming the problems and realizing the potential.