Mount Union leaders provided an update last week on the borough’s comprehensive assessment, in particular the borough’s financial outlook over the next five years.

Council president Mary Hancock and finance committee chair Gary Kuklo said they recently met via Zoom with representatives from the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) which is conducting the assessment, and a representative from the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to discuss PEL’s financial analysis.

“One of the things we have to be careful of is revenue,” Kuklo said. “If we do not increase our revenue we will be overspent in the next five years.”

Kuklo said while there are a number of expenses the borough can’t control, like healthcare coverage increases, leadership needs to keep an eye on the costs directly under their control.

“We have to do our due diligence about excess spending and overtime costs,” he said. “(PEL) projects that in five years, we’ll be in a deficit.”

PEL projects, at its current rate of revenue and expense, Mount Union will see a deficit of $25,000 by the end of 2022 and at the end of the five-year period, will be as much as $90,000 in the red.

Kuklo said PEL’s report was very detailed and he looks forward to hearing the agency’s recommendations on what Mount Union leaders can do to avert the projected deficit.

PEL is conducting the multi-step assessment through DCED’s Strategic Management Planning Program (formerly Early Intervention) which welcomed Mount Union aboard in spring 2019.

PEL first conducted interviews with all of Mount Union’s employees and elected officials.

Kuklo said when PEL starts presenting its recommendations, the borough can apply to DCED for grant assistant to implement those recommendations. Kuklo said the borough is not guaranteed to receive grant money but the odds lean toward the borough’s favor with PEL’s expert assessment.

PEL, founded in 1936, is the “premier public policy think tank for local and state government issues in Pennsylvania” that offers a “non-partisan approach to public policy research and technical assistance,” according to the organization’s website.

The Strategic Management Planning Program “provides matching grant funds to assist municipalities experiencing fiscal difficulties to develop comprehensive multi-year financial plans and establish short- and long-term financial objectives,” according to DCED’s web page.

Council member Wayne Querry said he has some ideas on ways the borough can scale back it’s expenses but declined to elaborate during Wednesday’s meeting.

“We’re not very tight with our money,” Querry said.

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