SHICKSHINNY— Borough Council put the finishing touches Tuesday on a $155,242 budget for 2014 that contains no tax increase and provides for a small increase in spending for a part-time police department.
An increase in spending of $17,000 provides for a department of two officers that will include Brian Morris and Keith Shackles.
The tax rate on real estate is .09175 mills, which is estimated to yield $12,697, but the major revenue producer is a 1 percent earned income tax, which is expected to raise $65,000. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
Shickshinny also benefits from a trust created by the late Forest Garrison. Secretary/Treasurer Wendy Kramer said $48,938 has been allocated from the Garrison Fund for 2014.
The Garrison Fund came into play at Tuesday’s meeting when council voted to spend more than $34,000 from a 2013 balance of $47,000. In order to meet unanticipated expenses for the Crary Park project, council acted to remit $10,856 from the current Garrison Fund balance to pay for “overages” and, in addition, approved the purchase of a John Deere front-end loader from Lindsey Supply of Ashley for $23,939.
During the public comment segment of the meeting, Shackles was criticized by George Zapata of Berwick, who charged that Shackles acted impolitely and threateningly during a traffic stop on Main Street on Nov. 29.
Zapata said Shackles treated him “like a criminal” and threatened to impound Zapata’s car. Zapata alleged Shackles warned him “not to come back through Shickshinny again.”
Mayor Beverly Moore, who administers the police department, offered an apology to Zapata and promised an inquiry.
There was also an allegation from Councilman Kevin Morris who said his son received similar treatment from Shackles during a traffic stop. Morris said he is also aware of other complaints against Shackles.
After the meeting, however, Councilman Barry Noss contended that Moore and Morris are not supportive of Shackles. Noss said Shackles is regarded as a good officer who has the backing of a majority of council, consisting of himself, councilmen Michael Steeber and James Wido, and Council President Rosalie Whitebread.
Noss’ term on council concludes this month. He lost in the Nov. 5 general election to Kathy Llewellyn, who is scheduled to be officially seated at a re-organizational meeting on Jan. 6.
Council also voted to change its monthly work session to Dec. 23.