Paint Township Supervisor Joe Huff Jr. told Windber Borough Council members Tuesday that police will continue to patrol the streets through the end of the year even without a cash advance from Windber.
Windber made one of its bi-weekly payments of $14,500 to the township during the borough's regular meeting Tuesday. The borough owes about $29,000 for the rest of the year. Huff said the advance from Windber was no longer necessary after advances were approved from each of the other four boroughs — Benson, Paint, Scalp Level and Central City — the township provides with police services.
"The bi-weekly payments have been working out very well," Paint Township police Chief Rick Skiles said.
He said, "as of today," the police department should be able to maintain services until at least Dec. 31. Skiles credited several factors for helping the department make ends meet in the short-term — including savings from layoffs and the advances.
Huff said the township is finalizing the paperwork on a $75,000 interim loan, which it received from 1st Summit Bank in September. Supervisors met with 1st Summit last week to discuss an approximate $300,000 loan. The bank has yet to approve or deny the township for the borrowing. The township is hoping for a response by the end of the week.
"I was encouraged by the meeting and their willingness to help us," Huff added.
The two sides discussed a two-year loan, which Huff said would save the township money in interest payments. Although it has previously been reported otherwise, Huff characterized the loan — and not Windber Borough — as the linchpin to police survival.
The township's deficit is expected to exceed $350,000 by the end of the year. Barnes Saly & Co., a certified public accounting firm from Johnstown, cited a $168,000 overrun on the police building's expansion as one of the primary contributors to the deficit.
Supervisors plan to raise property taxes by 75 percent next year. The six-mill increase would include four mills for debt service and two mills for operating costs and recovery. Huff said taxes could be lowered by four mills once the township's debt is paid off.
"I will fight tooth and nail to reduce those four mills once the loan is paid off," he said. "I know that generally, when taxes are increased they never come down. I'm a resident and taxpayer like everyone else and I don't see any reason why taxes can't later be lowered in this case."
Windber, along with the partnering boroughs, has until Nov. 30 to opt into a police agreement for 2013.