Johnstown starts budget process

JOHNSTOWN — City government’s 2019 budget process has begun.

City Treasurer Michael Gifford reported to the Common Council Monday at City Hall that city department heads have sent him their preliminary budgets for 2019. The council, by law, adopts the following year’s budget by December.

“Budget requests are on my desk,” Gifford said. “We’re working with the mayor on that.”

Gifford said that “certain equipment” requested may be part of a bond issue done by the city. He said the Water Board also may need bond proceeds for a project in 2019.

The Common Council on Dec. 4, 2017 adopted the city’s $13.2 million 2018 budget — a spending plan that ended up carrying a 2 percent property tax hike. The budget wound up being above the state’s tax cap for the city. The property tax rate increased from $12.39 per $1,000 to $12.63. The city’s tax levy increased from $5.49 million to $5.67 million for 2018. No raises were granted for the mayor the five council members.

In other reports to the council Monday night:

∫ Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said city fire department members received various training, including for industrial operations.

He reminded city residents to have maintenance done on their chimneys before winter.

Heberer said his department had 73 calls in August, which included four structure fires and five vehicle fires.

He reported the Johnstown Fire Department raised over $4,500 for the Chicago-based Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual “Fill The Boot” campaign.

Heberer said the Codes Division in August granted construction permits totaling over $2 million, and took in $5,479 in fees. Large chunks of that construction activity were taken up by a new 7,225-square-foot O’Reilly Auto Parts store project underway at 138 N. Comrie Ave. — between Wendy’s and the Microtel; and a $500,000 Stewart’s Shop addition and blacktop project at 203 N. Comrie Ave.

“August was a tremendously busy month,” Heberer said.

∫ The city Police Department recorded 670 calls for service in August, with officers making 62 arrests, issuing 35 citations and investigating 31 motor vehicle accidents, Chief David Gilbo reported.

∫ City Engineer Christopher Vose said sidewalks are being paved with the city’s state Consolidated Highway Improvement Program allotment. He said milling and paving is also being done.

Vose reported a review continues for the new Miller Street bridge due to be erected by the city Department of Public Works. He said that work may begin soon.

“That should be starting to move in the near future,” he said,

∫ Johnstown Senior Citizens Center Director Diedrie Roemer reported over 2,800 people attended the center in August. Activities included line dancing, exercise classes, and art classes. Events at the center included a Job Fair that attracted 65 people, she said.

Roemer said upcoming speakers at the center include: Oct. 4 — Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino; and Oct. 11 — Democratic Congressional candidate Tedra Cobb from Canton.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at