FACTORYVILLE — Members of Factoryville borough council voted to pass its final budget without a tax increase for the third consecutive year during a monthly meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at borough hall.
A general fund budget of $303,847 was approved for 2016. The budget may be reopened during the borough’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 4 at borough hall, 161 College Ave., if council members decide to approve a 2-mill tax increase to support the construction of a new fire house, according to borough manager Mary Ellen Buckbee.
A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
“Municipalities are obligated to provide fire protection for their residents, but there is nothing that specifically compels the municipalities to give the fire company tax money,” Buckbee said. “Of course, we want to support them.”
Tom Schofield of the Factoryville Fire Department addressed council members during the meeting to ask for funding to to help build a new fire house in Clinton Township. The Factoryville Fire Department serves Factoryville, Clinton Township and half of La Plume Township.
“We’ve been looking into a new fire hall for quite a while,” Schofield said. “It’s going to be a reality very shortly so we’re looking for the funding, that was discussed in the past, to get approved so we can start. We have interim financing already set up through the United States Department of Agriculture and an agreement with Clinton Township, but I have not been able to get a hold of representatives from La Plume Township as many times as I’ve tried.”
The current fire house was built in the 1950s and the department is in need of a more spacious facility.
“We outgrew this one,” Schofield said. “The size of the equipment has changed due to National Fire Protection Association requirements. Right now, we have about an inch clearance on each side of the mirrors on some vehicles in the building.”
The new fire house has an estimated cost of $1.6-$1.8 million, according to Schofield, who added the department expects to have a bid opening in about a month.
According to Buckbee, if Factoryville Borough raises taxes 2 mills and Clinton Township has a 1.4 mill increase, it would cost each household in both municipalities an additional $40 per year on average for the department to build the new fire house.
Grant writer Sadie Rozenburg announced the borough might be awarded a grant to connect its parks.
“There is a possibility we may receive a joint-municipal grant through PennDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program to fund the connection of Christy Mathewson Park and the Factoryville-Clinton Township Joint Municipal Park,” she said. “With the grant, all we would have to pay for is the design fee.”
According to Rozenburg, Tim Wilson, the landscape architect who designed the Countryside Conservancy Trolley Trail, designed a map with possible options for connecting the parks.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.