Council hires economic expert to assist in budget, labor negotiations

City Council hired an economic analytic expert Thursday who says Williamsport, along with other third-class cities, has an uncertain economic outlook.

“The downside is more significant than the upside,” said Vijay Kapoor, president of Kapoor Co., a firm that will assist the city administration as it prepares for possible arbitration with the Bureau of Fire union in August.

In terms of what will happen in the next couple of months, Kapoor will be paid no more than $16,500 to perform what he said is a granular, high-end analysis using compensation comparisons from cities across Pennsylvania.

Mayor Derek Slaughter said Kapoor will also be used by the city in preparation for his proposed 2021 budget, and negotiations with police and River Valley Transit unions.

Slaughter said it was the city labor counsel, Pat Harvey, who recommended Kapoor be brought in.

The city’s financial condition is expected to be impacted by the impending arbitration and effects caused by COVID-19.

Council approved a request by Joseph Pawlak, city interim finance director, to increase budget by $10,000 to bring it to $50,000 for labor negotiations in the 2021 budget.

Kapoor, who appeared by remote at the meeting, said his firm has worked with cities such as Allentown, Chester, Lancaster and York.

He said he frequently is in conference calls with those cities leaderships. The cities are in similar situations due to a lack of business because of the virus impacts on the economy and other factors that affect various tax revenues.

Kapoor said the work will include a review of the city’s economic situation, statewide comparisons, compensation analysis and comparisons to other third-class cities fire and police departments.

The vote to hire Kapoor was 6-0 with Jon Mackey late for the vote but who took part in the meeting after the Kapoor discussion.


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