"So, basically there is no tax increase," Mayor Jon Crouch emphasized after city manager Neil Fratus presented the tax rates.
Creating the budget was a cooperative effort, according to Fratus. "Every department was directed to look at their budget with a fresh perspective to prioritize needs over wants," he said during the meeting. "We looked to cut where possible and add where needed." In the end, Fratus and council agreed it is a "fiscally responsible" budget geared toward ensuring the services residents have come to expect. Council member Bill McCrillis admitted it's not what he'd want for a budget and wished they could do more, but added "it's totally manageable."
The TRA is trying to gather $50,000 to match funds for a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to develop an engineering plan and make the project "shovel ready." The Titusville Area School District has $10,000 committed and the authority has approached some businesses in that area about possible contributions, according to a report provided by Kristen Kerr of the Titusville Community Development Agencies, which oversees the TRA.
Kerr said the engineering plan will go a long way to getting the millions in funding for the project. Right now the authority only has a concept, not a detailed plan, so attempts to get funding for the project have failed twice. She believes the engineering study will show they can hit the ground running with the project and improve the chances of getting a grant.
"I know it's an important project. Do we have $10,000 that we can commit to this?" asked deputy mayor Sara Jones.
Councilor Sam Logsdon said "I don't mind supporting with a letter of support, but we're trying to get life saving equipment into the town that we're struggling for the money. We can't afford this, that's my take on that."
Fratus said it is a problem area that needs to be addressed but admitted that he'd have to find the money from somewhere. "It's been a project that's been needed for 20 years," Crouch said, asking Fratus to look into finding the funds. "We certainly want to be a part of the solution," Crouch said.
In the end council voted 3-1 to send a letter of support and pledge $5,000 contingent upon whether Fratus could find the money. The grant application grant deadline is December 2, adding a bit of urgency to the matter since the council does not meeting again until December 5.
In other news
Council agreed to send a request from the Oil Region Alliance for a zoning change for a North Washington Street building to the Titusville Planning Commission for review. The ORA is requesting the Scheide House, which they own, be turned into limited commercial use. It is currently residential only. The house sits at the intersection of N. Washington Street and W. Walnut Street where three other businesses are currently operating.
Junior council member Chloe Watkins reported that Titusville High School students were hoping the city would consider a temporary ice skating rink this winter. No action was taken on this request.
Thankful season and a civics lecture
At the end of the meeting the councilors took a moment to express some Thanksgiving thoughts. The mayor was particularly thankful for how the current council, city manager and city departments are working together for the city. "We're not a council that just rubber stamps everything," he said, adding how at all the budget preparations meetings they all showed up and took part in the solutions.
When McCrillis took his tur,n he also thanked everyone for their work on the budget. They held seven public meetings to go over what was to end up in the proposed budget. "It's also been a learning process for all of us," he said. McCrillis expressed disappointment at the lack of public involvement with the budget meetings. "I would put out there, if you are interested in this city... do something... come in. We had nobody (show up) from the public. Not one citizen came in to go over the budget and that's a shame."
Below you can view the proposed budgets for 2023. These are public records that can also be found on the City of Titusville's website.