Alisher Aminov

LEBANON, Pa.— The Lebanon City Council met Monday to review a busier end-of-year agenda.

The Lebanon City Council met Monday to hear a transmitted financial audit from Barbacane Thornton & Company, vote on three resolutions, and vote on three bills.

Mayor Sheri Capello informed the Council that the Barbacane Thornton & Company audit showed no material weaknesses or deficiencies and found no evidence of financial fraud.

Mayor Capello also said that according to the audit, the City’s net position between year-end 2020 and year-end 2021 decreased from 11.6 to 6.6. For reference, the government’s net position is determined by the difference between an entity’s assets plus deferred outflows of resources and its liabilities plus differed inflows of resources.

Mayor Capello told the Council that net position is a metric that a city can use to better gauge its financial position (improving or deteriorating) over an extended period, not necessarily from one year to the next.

Despite the decrease from year-end 2020 and year-end 2021, Mayor Capello said that this should not necessarily be concerning. Mayor Capello noted that there are embedded items in the 2021 financials that will be paid in 2022.

Mayor Capello said that these embedded costs had raised the capital assets of the City, which then raised the deferred outflows and thus skewing the figure between one year and the next.

Mayor Capello said that an example is that the City has not yet received a grant it expects to help offset the cost of the municipal moving downtown. However, the City is expecting to receive $2 million, which will offset the decrease in net position.

Mayor Capello also said that this audit does not consider the sale of the City’s portion of the County Municipal Building.

Mayor Capello said it is unlikely that the City will receive the $2 million grant by the end of this year, which will also skew next year’s figures.

Additionally, in the Pre-City Council meeting on Thursday, Janelle Mendoff, Lebanon Community and Economic Development Administrator, conducted a public hearing regarding Resolution 26, which proposes the reallocation of money given to the City by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Community Development

Block Grant.

The Resolution proposes the reallocation of Year 2020 funds for the first-time homebuyer/emergency rehab fund in the sum of $80,000, Year 2021 funds for water main improvements totaling $140,000, and Year 2022 funds for water main improvements totaling $140,000 ($360,000 total) to be used for street improvements in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

Mendoff said that the money they are reallocating from the first-time

homebuyer/emergency rehab program is the remaining additional funds from 2020. She said the program is currently well-funded, so this reallocation should not be a problem.

Mendoff also said the money being reallocated for the water main improvements for Year 2021 and year 2022 are funds effectively reimbursing the City for the projects because they were required to pull from other funds at the time. 

Mendoff said the CDBG funds are released at specific times, so the City was required to pre-emptively fund the projects and is reallocating the CDBG money now that it has come in.

The street improvements are slated to span from Lincoln Ave to the city line east.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve Resolution 26.

In other business:

The City Council voted on and passed resolution 27, which will amend Resolution 22 to increase the amount the City is committing to help the fire department purchase a new fire suppression engine. Initially, the City intended to give the fire department $340,000; however, due to the bids being higher than expected, the City is now increasing its commitment to $388,888.

Mayor Capello said that the increased cost of fire equipment has shot up considerably. So, in the end, the lowest bid was higher than the maximum the City initially estimated the engine might cost.

The City Council also unanimously voted to pass Resolution 28, which established the policy of Lebanon to “ensure equal opportunity in housing for all persons regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, handicap (disability), age and ancestry. Mayor Capello said that this was a mandate from HUD.

The Council unanimously approved the proposed Y2023 City Budget on final reading. They also voted unanimously to keep the property tax levy at 4.581 mills on introduction.

Additionally, the City Council passed Bill 7 through the introduction, which was in accordance with a piece of legislation that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law earlier in the year. This bill creates a conditional clause that allows tax collectors to waive additional late charges for real estate taxes in certain situations. This bill is in accordance with Act 57.

Public Comments:

President of the Union Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company of Lebanon, Ed Johnson, thanked the City for their continued support of the fire department and for the additional support for purchasing a new fire engine.

Craig Gates, 47 Berwyn Park Ave, of the Community of Lebanon Association, thanked the City along with CLA volunteers for all they have done to help and support the CLA and their initiatives, specifically the holiday parade which recently took place in downtown Lebanon.

The next Pre-City Council meeting will be on December 15 at 4:45 PM, and the City Council meeting will be on December 19 at 6:30 in the Frank Dixon Council Chamber at 735 Cumberland St. All are welcome to attend.

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