Robinson revises budget

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Two full-time public works employees and a proposed recreational activities director were added to Robinson’s budget Monday night.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a revised budget for 2014 that cuts some truck purchases and park construction in order to add the jobs.

The board also approved a four-year contract with the public works union. The agreement will cover 17 employees once the additional workers are hired.

This year’s overall spending plan of $12,461,723, and the 2.6-mill property tax rate, stayed the same.

The owner of a home assessed at $100,000 will continue to pay $260 a year in township real estate taxes.

Commissioners had approved the budget in December, but reopened it last month so that newly seated members Kenneth Kisow and James Barefoot could review it.

Under the revised plan, the public works fund for equipment purchases was reduced by $190,000, eliminating plans to buy a dump truck and a pickup truck, township manager Jeff Silka said.

Instead, $70,000 went toward leasing the two trucks.

The remaining $120,000 was allotted for hiring two full-time laborers, including their wages, medical insurance and Social Security taxes.

“Having only 15 full-time employees in public works, we get stretched thin,” Mr. Silka said. “So to continue to provide the services that our residents expect, it’s important to add to the workforce.”

An earmark for construction of a stage at the Burkett Recreation & Sports Complex was decreased by $26,900. Mr. Silka said the project probably will be delayed a year.

Instead, $25,000 was set aside for a community activities director, a proposed new position listed under the culture and recreation portion of the budget.

Mr. Silka said the job has not yet been defined.

Commissioners voted to approve a collective bargaining agreement through 2017 with the Laborer’s District Council of Western Pennsylvania on behalf of Local 1058.

“It was an equitable agreement,” Chairman Samuel Abatta said. “I think it was a good win on both sides.”

The contract — retroactive to Jan. 1 — includes 1.95 percent annual wage increases for public works employees, who are responsible for tasks such as road repair, snow plowing and park maintenance.

Current average pay, depending on classification, is either about $30 an hour or $16.50 an hour, Mr. Silka said.

Other contract terms include employees contributing toward their medical insurance premiums and the township eliminating post-retirement health care benefits for employees who are hired after Jan. 1, 2014.

The contract says that starting in 2017, the township may add a second, evening shift during the winter months if the department employs at least 19 workers.

Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Ronald Shiwarski, head of the public works and finance committees, said hiring two workers this year will help build the manpower needed to eventually start the shift work.

“We’re looking to grow that department,” he said.

Mr. Shiwarski noted that this year's road paving budget is $600,000 — significantly more than the $400,000 normally allocated.

He said the township had not completed its annual road program in 2010 or 2011, so “we’re trying to play a little bit of catch-up.”

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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