City Council held a relatively tame budget work session Wednesday that was focused on Mayor Gabriel J. Campana's proposed budgets for the police, fire, government and recreation departments.
Campana wants the police force to be reduced from 52 to 49 officers and has budgeted $7.7 million for the department.
This year's police budget was $7.1 million.
CRAIG?S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Joseph Pawlak, left, budget and fiscal officer for Williamsport answers a question Wednesday night posed to him by a City Council member as Mayor Gabriel J. Campana looks on.
Pensions rose for uniformed employees by an average of $11,000 or more, while health care across the board for all employees goes up 11 percent, according to Joe Pawlak, city budget and fiscal officer.
Councilman Jonathan Williamson asked Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman the cost to pay salary, pension, health care, equipment and training per officer. "About $100,000," Foresman said.
Foresman said he managed to keep overtime expenses down because the city didn't have an overabundance of major incidents requiring extensive investigation and time.
Among his requests is a $360,000 records-management system he says will help enable the department to more effectively use its manpower and keep track of incidents. He also would like to be able to buy four police cruisers.
The fire department's proposed $6.2 million budget reflects a staff of 30 firefighters and three command staff. This year's fire budget is $5.5 million. The budget passed last year was for 32 officers and three command staff, but two firefighter positions were not filled.
It costs taxpayers $60,000 per firefighter. Fire Chief Dean Heinbach said he continues to pursue state grants to be able to pay for new engines and equipment. The high cost of replacing engines, estimated at $500,000 apiece, may require adding chassis to the existing vehicles.
The proposed codes department budget is $637,687 and it costs taxpayers about $45,000 to pay for a codes officer receiving benefits. Codes Administrator Joe Gerardi indicated a plan to utilize assistant fire chief Todd Heckman for about 10 hours per week to assist in codes duties.
The proposed budget for City Council is $362,450, but $85,200 budgeted for pensions does not mean each member of council is getting a large pension. The actual pension benefit for council
is dependent upon salary. The late Dr. Randall Hipple, for example, who served 30-plus years on council, received a monthly pension of $90, according to council President Bill Hall. "It's spreading out costs," Pawlak explained of the pension line item.
The proposed recreation department budget is $120,700, according to Justin Simpson, recreation director.
It does not include the Showers Estate Pool at Brandon Park or Memorial Pool, he said. The East End Pool at Shaw Place Park is expected to be upgraded next year using matching funds of $250,000 and a $250,000 grant, he said.
A design for the pool shows a slide and a water spray area.
Council meets for the first reading of the proposed budget Dec. 6.