At 25.5 mills, a homeowner with an assessed value of $50,000 will continue to pay $1,275 in taxes.
Calling it his "state of the borough address," Mayor Samuel Gagliardi, however, warned council Wednesday that he would veto the final budget if $4,000 wasn’t added back into to the police department's budget for next year.
Gagliardi estimated the borough had deficit spending of $161,000 in 2014 based on the actual budget. Yet, he said budgeted funds for part-timers in 2015 have been decreased. He said part-timers were needed last year to cover 128 hours while just one officer was out sick for four months.
“If one of the officers calls off sick, we have to put a part-timer in there,” he said, noting that the police work seven days a week, with four officers totaling 3,360 hours per month. “We can’t let the town go unprotected.”
Councilman Dave Trzianka said they can't base the budget on if an officer might get hurt and Councilman Michael Stuban said special situations can be addressed when they arise.
Stuban said the $500,000 police budget sets aside $14,000 for part-timers to cover sick time, vacation and personal days. Another $40,000 is set aside for part-time officers doing extra patrols, he said.
“It might mean changing your scheduling a little bit, but the money is there,” Stuban said. “If council thought there was any concerns about it, we would not have done it.”
Police Chief Dave Christner said in five years he has been chief, he has saved the borough money and has never gone over his allotted budget, something he takes pride in. He said the $4,000 removed from the police budget is essentially taking part-time officers off the street.
"All I want to do is provide good public safety for the people," Christner added.
Council members asked Christner to submit his estimated total amount of part-time shifts for next year to try and work the matter out.
Gagliardi said council has 10 days, or until Dec. 29, to reconvene and override his veto.
Water rate increase
Council also voted 5-1 to adopt the Water Fund budget for 2015 in the amount of $789,900. The budget includes a water rate increase for customers starting the first quarter of the new year.
For the first 2,000 gallons or less that is used, customers will pay $48.50 per quarter, an additional $2.50. For each additional 1,000 gallons or more, customers will pay $7 per quarter, up from $6.40.
Officials said rates are increasing because the Ambridge Water Authority-- which supplies water to Baden--increased its rates in July and the borough needs to meet its financial obligation and maintain the waterlines.
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