December 11, 2013 —
Pike officials last week offered a pre-Christmas package for county taxpayers—no new taxes.
Commissioners’ Chair Rich Caridi said the panel is “doing our best to hold the line.” The commissioners voted preliminary approval for a $38.5 million 2014 spending plan.The new budget will be available for review online and at the commissioners’ office until its planned final adoption on December 31.
With county revenues projected to drop for a third straight year, the plan represents a 6% cut in anticipated spending, some $2.5 million.
Projected cuts include $1.2 million in county administration, $938,000 in child welfare, and $416,000 in costs listed as miscellaneous. Two areas show increases: corrections spending is budgeted to increase $107,000, while the judicial budget is up by $19,000.
There was no change in library funding levels. In related business, Ellen Schaffner, executive director of the Pike County Public Library, announced that she would be meeting with Molly Rodgers, director of Wayne County Library system, to work on improving services for residents of both counties.
She also announced planned meetings with supervisors of Lackawaxen, Blooming Grove, Palmyra and Greene to get their suggestions for improved library services.
Schaffner said that PA State Librarian, Stacey Aldrich, is favoring Pike and Wayne systems working together on a partnership initiative that could be a model for other libraries statewide. Aldrich will meet with Schaffner and Rodgers early next year.
Milford pipeline compressor enlargement
The commissioners also heard from Alex Lotorto of the Energy Justice Network and Westfall resident Jolie DeFeis of Air, Soil, Water, who asked the commissioners to file as interveners in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission docket by NiSource Columbia Pipeline Eastside Expansion Project.
According to a statement from the Energy Justice Network, NiSource Columbia is seeking approvals to expand the pipeline compressor station on Firetower Road near the Black Walnut Inn. The expansion would increase the station from its existing 680 horsepower to 9,400 horsepower in order to expedite delivery of Marcellus natural gas to markets in the north and south.
Lotorto said intervention would not require the county to take a position on the project, but local concerns exist that the increased activity would increase output of a variety of air pollutants.
DeFeis said there was a danger that the nature of Milford, the atmosphere that brought people there, wambeing sacrificed for “energy industry injustice.”
The commissioners took no position. “We’ll take a look at it,” Caridi said.
The commissioners also finalized a long-planned land swap with PennDOT. They finalized the trade of 14 acres of land on Pike County Boulevard in Blooming Grove, which would host a new Pike PennDOT headquarters. The existing PennDOT property on Bennett Avenue in Milford becomes county property, which would be leased back to PennDOT pending construction of the new facility.
PennDOT Regional Facilities Adminstrator Greg Boler said PennDOT plans are now being reviewed by the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, with construction on the new site expected to get underway in the spring.