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Suter: Pennsburg ‘Bleeding Money’
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Pennsburg has a spending problem, according to the new council president. Patrick Suter announced Tuesday that the municipality will stop spending money on unnecessary issues.

            "We are bleeding money," he said after the meeting.

            According to Suter, the municipality will continue to maintain current spending levels for essential items. After his second meeting leading council, he described those as maintaining the borough's daily operations.

            The council president cited the Upper Perk Police Department, the public works and administrative departments and their employees as essential. Suter said all other spending decisions will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

            "We have no wiggle room," he said during the meeting.

            The council president explained that based on the borough's current spending rates, residents would likely receive a significant tax increase in 2025. He said the municipality's level of savings had fallen below an acceptable threshold, though he did not present any specifics to support the assertion.

            "I can't expect the community to absorb a tax increase every year," Suter said.

            According to Administrative Manager Lisa Hiltz, council has canceled several plans, including repaving the parking lot at the Municipal Building and several road projects. Suter chose not to estimate how long the new fiscal strategy would be utilized.

            "I have no idea how long it will last," he said.

            Suter, council's former vice president, says he gained a full understanding of the borough's financial issues one day after his appointment to lead the body. On Jan. 3, aided by staff, he fully analyzed the municipality's current budget.

            "We need to get the borough's finances squared away," the council president said.

            Despite the newly implemented austerity, the borough will proceed with its plan to renovate the Civic Building, located at 76 West Seventh St. However, the project will be delayed while the borough seeks a loan for an additional $358,000 to cover the work. The members unanimously approved a motion to apply for an updated interim loan from QNB.

            Hollenbach Construction, Inc., of Douglass Township, presented the lowest of four project bids opened last week. Its base bid of $1.817 million came in significantly higher than municipal officials forecasted, according to engineer John Rundy. He said during the meeting that reducing the scope of the project would force the borough to rebid it.

            According to Rundy, the borough received four bids for the project. He said the highest bid came in at $2.094 million.

            Council took no action on the bids. According to the engineer, the contractor would have 240 calendar days to complete the work once a notice to proceed is issued.

            Rundy told the members that he had submitted an application on Jan. 12 on the borough's behalf for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funds. The engineer is seeking money to cover the work. After the meeting, he added that the municipality can apply for the grant after the work is completed.

            Projects that have a cultural, civic, historical, regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases in employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity are eligible for RACP money, according to information posted on the Pennsylvania Budget Office's website. It states that grantees must be either a general-purpose form of local government unit, any public authority, a federally designated local development district or an industrial development agency.

            Vice President Keith Goodwin and Member Diane Stevens did not attend the meeting.






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