City sees $217,700 increase in MMOs - Titusville Herald: News

City sees $217,700 increase in MMOs

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 5:00 am

The City of Titusville will see a major rise in its Municipal Minimum Obligation (MMO) payments into its pension fund for 2019.

Between the pension funds for the Titusville Police Department and Fire Department, a total of $217,700 extra will be paid into pension funds in the coming year. The police MMO rose by $76,023 to a total of $415,928, and the fire department’s rose by $141,677, up to $330,986.

The non-uniform pension MMO stayed the same, according to Manross, coming to $51,920.

City Manager Larry Manross, who revealed the increases at Tuesday’s meeting of City Council, said that the increases were caused by the poor state of the economic markets which pay into the pension funds in 2017, which is when the city was last evaluated for its MMOs.

The city had anticipated the increase, and was able to acquire an extension last year that allowed them to use their 2015 evaluation for 2017. Normally, evaluations are used for two year periods, rather than three.

Due to the increase, the city had to pull back on the number of paving projects for this year while crafting the 2018 budget.

Further, the city has a large number of retired fire and police personnel, meaning increases can cause a major hit to the city. Manross said that, for example, the Titusville Police Department has 22 retired officers, compared to only 10 officers on active duty.

Although the increase is major, Manross said that there may be hope in the future, as the markets is looking stronger currently.

“I do think this will be a temporary increase, because if the markets continue as they have been, the pensions will get more funded and this will go down,” Manross said.

The city will be re-evaluated in 2019, when it will potentially see a decrease for the 2020 payments.

The payment of the 2019 MMOs was approved unanimously at the council meeting for all those present, with Mayor Esther Smith absent due to illness.

Splash pad

The contract for the concrete and plumbing work on the planned Burgess Park splash pad was awarded at Tuesday’s meeting to the tune of $236,623.80.

The city received only one bid for the job, which came from Aquatic Pools and Construction, a Waterford-based company.

While Manross said he was “disappointed” that only one bid was submitted, research performed by him determined that the bid was competitive within the market. The City Manager speculated that the fact the contract has a deadline of November may have scared companies off, as they would be unable to fit the job into their schedule before winter.

Further, he said that he was glad the service company was relatively close, as communication would be easier in case of issues.

Once the concrete work is in place, the city will still need to renovate the interior of the Dick Kraffert pool house and put up the pad’s water features before it can be opened. The pool house work will be done over the winter, while Manross said that putting up the features could be done quickly.

“I would love to open this on Memorial Day,” Manross said. “That would be super. That’s the goal.”

The splash pad is replacing the Dick Kraffert pool, which was closed in June 2017. The city cited low revenues as a reason for the pool’s closure, claiming that it brought in only $21,694 against expenses of $52,538 for the 2016 swimming season.

Further, the city said that the pool was leaking several million gallons of water a year, and that it would require multiple costly repairs to fix.

The city is using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to cover the conversion of the pool to a splash pad.

CDBG

The city’s application for 2018 CDBG money was approved by Council Tuesday, with a portion of the funds to be used to replace the South Perry Street bridge with a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.

The city is applying for $296,249 total in its application, and discussed how the funds will be divvied up at a public hearing on Aug. 21.

A total of $50,000 will be earmarked for the pedestrian Bridge, which the city intends to begin construction on once the existing South Perry Street Bridge is demolished next year by the state.

Manross, at the hearing, said that the total cost of the bridge before installation would come to around $125,000. The city will put aside the $50,000 acquired from this CDBG application to be used with money acquired from future applications to construct the pedestrian bridge.

In other expenditures from the 2018 CDBG amount, the city will use $140,000 towards a demolition and clearance line item. This money is used to tear down blighted properties, which is one of the primary goals of the CDBG program.

One Public Works building will receive a new roof to the rune of $52,925 out of the CDBG money. Manross said that which building’s roof will be replaced has not yet been determined.

“They’re old, they’re rusty, they’re poked full of holes,” Manross said.

The final line item, which comes in at $53,324, is required administrative fees. The city is obligated by law to take 18 percent of the total to cover the work of administering the CDBG money to their various sources.

Manross said that the administrative money would go into the city’s general fund, and would be there’s to spend on other projects or costs.

Police contract

The new contract for Titusville Police, which will be effective until Dec. 31, 2022, was awarded at Tuesday’s meeting.

The contract was arbitrated by Pennsylvania officials after the city and the Titusville Police Department were unable to reach a deal. The arbitrators decided some aspects of the contract in the department’s favor, and some in the city’s favor, with both parties required by law to accept the contract as final.

Officers will see a three percent wage increase each year for the next five years under the contract, which comes out to roughly .75 cent more per hour per officer, according to Manross.

In turn, there will be a decrease in the longevity bonuses, and officers will be given two fewer personal days to take off.

Longevity bonuses are given to officers who have served for a minimum of seven years, and is a percentage of their yearly salary. Previously, the bonus would go up by a 1/2 percent every year, to a maximum of 22 years. Now, however, it will only go up every other year.

Titusville Police Chief Harold Minch praised the arbitrated contract.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Minch said. “[The department] got a good deal of what they wanted.”

Minch said the increased wages would give more stability to the department, and ensure the current roster of officers stay working there for longer. Further, he highlighted the fact the contract lasts for five years, longer than the three years wanted by the city.

Other meeting news

Lisa Pearson, a Public Works employee, was presented with a 30 year service award by council at the meeting. The award commemorated Pearson for dedicated service through the years and “giving time, loyalty and dedication.”

A social media policy for all city employees was passed. The policy limits how workers for the city can act on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The next City Council meeting will take place Sept. 18, at 6 p.m., at the Towne Square Building.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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