The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 12, 2013

Cash-strapped officials mull another levy

BROOKFIELD — Only halfway through the year, Brookfield Township police and fire departments are operating on a thin dime – still facing manpower shortages, no money for maintenance or emergency repairs and taking a beating at the gas pump. So much so that trustees are kicking around the idea of placing a tax levy on the fall ballot.

A safety services levy failed on last November’s ballot, but Fire Chief Keith Barrett said he thinks that was because voters were reluctant to support services other than the fire department. He told trustees Tuesday night that he’d like to see a 1.3 levy on the ballot this fall, designated only for the fire department. The proceeds, Barrett said, would allow him to open Station 51, the substation in Masury, as well as replace a furloughed firefighter and make desperately needed repairs to a 26-year-old fire truck.

He told trustees his costs have skyrocketed, the same as other departments, due to increasing health care costs, rising utilities, the high cost of fuel and significant cuts in state funds.

“We essentially have a $400,000 building on Addison Road that is abandoned,” he said, referring to the Masury substation. “Our response time is increased by four to five minutes because that station is closed and I get a lot of heat about that,” he said.

“The only solution to this in my mind is a levy. And I hate to say that, because I already think we tax people to death. But I say put it out there and let the people decide what they want. If they don’t want it, then we’ll have to live where we are or make additional cuts,” Barrett said.

“We had a combined levy last fall and we know where that got us. Some people voted for it but some against it because it wasn’t separated. The fire department by itself stands a chance,” he said.

“The police give people tickets and people don’t like that. We take grandma to the hospital and people like us,” he said.

Trustee Ron Haun said he would like to see the ambulance service increase business, particularly from local nursing homes. Barrett said the bulk of the departments calls are ambulance calls.

Police Chief Dan Faustino, who is working within a budget that is nearly $100,000 less than it was five years ago, isn’t asking for an additional levy, but suggested trustees considering renewing levies that are already in place. By placing a renewal on the ballot rather than a new levy, the costs to the taxpayers are considerably lower.

Faustino said he too is putting off repairs and equipment replacements because he lacks the money. Just replacing two bullet-proof vests that are overdue will completely wipe out his maintenance budget. The vests cost about $750 each and he’s only got $1,000 budgeted.

Trustees are in the midst of a feasibility study that would consider combining Brookfield Township, Hubbard Township and Hubbard police forces, though any movement in that direction is likely years away, Faustino said.

Trustee Ron Haun commended Faustino on operating the department as efficiently as he has and thanked him for the extra hours he puts in without charging the township. He credits his staff for working to reduce expenses and managing their time effectively. The crime rate in the township varies, as it does everywhere, he said, based on the economy.

“When the economy is in the tank, you see more thefts. It comes in waves,” he said.

Trustee Phil Schmidt listened to both department heads but said he’s concerned about raising taxes again, since the township already ranks as the sixth-highest taxing body in the county. And although he said he’s heard there may be more state money available to townships next year, he’s concerned a large portion of it will go to the school.

“We already have people who are stretched to the limit. I mean, look, the school levy passed by one vote. Another one may not pass,” he said.

Schmidt also said the board will have to reach a decision by the July meeting, because the deadline to place a levy on the fall ballot is early August.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 24, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • Bus cameras will be listening, too

    Hermitage School District is taking advantage of a recently enacted exemption to the state’s wiretap law in allowing officials to turn on the audio recording capability on school bus and vehicle video cameras.

    April 24, 2014

  • Union, city OK 4-year contract

    Hermitage’s nonuniformed employees have a new four-year contract that gives them average pay hikes of 2.5 percent a year and the opportunity to live outside the city limits, while allowing administrators more flexibility in scheduling.

    April 24, 2014

  • 2 principals to be hired

    Sharpsville Area school directors needed a shove to make a decision but the board voted Tuesday to interview candidates and hire two principals for 2014-15.

    April 24, 2014

  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
AP Video
Sharonheraldnewspaper Facebook Page