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Council members challenge budget figures

October 25, 2000

Council members challenge budget figures



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Council members began challenging the borough's preliminary budget at Wednesday's Chambersburg Borough Council meeting, questioning the funding for new positions, in particular a full-time fire marshal.

Council members quizzed Borough Manager Eric Oyer on the preliminary budget they received two weeks ago, suggesting some new expenditures might be cut to prevent a proposed .3 mill increase in taxes.

Councilwoman Sharon A. Bigler questioned why the proposed 2001 budget includes a fire marshal for the Chambersburg Fire Department when the council has planned a strategic look into the department's operations in 2001.

"I don't see that we need a fire marshal right now. It's a needless expense," Bigler said.

The fire marshal position is a new full-time position that would play a supervisory role and assist the fire chief, Oyer said.

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Several other staff members shared Bigler's concerns.

"A fire marshal position is not justified at this time," said Councilman Carl W. Helman.

"I agree we should wait until we evaluate this department at the beginning of the year," added Council President Bernard L. Washabaugh, but he went on to suggest the fire chief does need some assistance.

"Overseeing the fire department is a lot of work. It's stupid to ask one person to be responsible for all things," Washabaugh said.

Council members suggested there are other items in the budget, including a $39,000 vehicle for the fire chief and $60,000 in the airport's capital reserve, to which they want explanations.

"There is no reason for a .3 mill tax increase. There are a lot of areas where we can reduce the budget," said Councilman Thomas L. Newcomer.

Oyer said his projections show the borough's expenditures could outweigh its revenue soon if the taxes are not adjusted to pay for an increase in services.

"I'm leary of the psychology that we can do all of this that we're doing and never increase taxes," Oyer said.

The council will discuss the proposed budget and tax increase further at upcoming meetings Wednesday, Nov. 1, and Nov. 8.

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