Sugarcreek seeing some hefty hits to revenue

Sugarcreek Borough manager Joe Sporer says the borough is taking some revenue hits because of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Sporer told borough council members Wednesday “our (local service tax) and (earned income tax) revenues are down 43% from where they were at this time last year.”

The revenues from the two tax sources greatly impact a municipality’s budget. Local service taxes are used to fund emergency services while earned income taxes feed directly into the general budget.

Another hit to tax revenues is coming from a $16,000 refund to Borchers, formerly Mooney Chemical, along Two Mile Run Road after the company had its property tax reassessed.

Sporer said that even though the numbers look daunting, “it’s about where I thought we’d be.”

The borough’s $3,205,539 budget, ratified in December, included a $25,000 increase in revenue – something largely attributed to a cable franchise agreement between the borough and Spectrum that includes 8% interest.

Expenses, however, increased $30,000 in the budget due to wage hikes that, as agreed on in the borough’s most recent contract with its employees, went up by 2.5%.

Sporer said the already “tight” budget is something that will need to be monitored closely, but he said he isn’t concerned yet.

“If that trend (recorded loss in tax revenues) continues, I would be concerned going into next year,” Sporer said.

Sporer and council members acknowledged Wednesday there are good things happening in the borough to offset losses.

“Rural King looks good, I’ve seen them out there working on it for a few weeks now,” said Sporer. “And Klapec looks like they’re doing really well with the old Kmart, so there are good things ahead.”

Councilman Larry Baughman said news of Rural King’s progress is “the best news we’ve had in a while.”

Rural King is planning a summer opening.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, council voted to offer UPMC Northwest $5,500 for an out-of-service police cruiser.

Police chief Bob Wenner said the hospital approached the department with interest of purchasing the vehicle, a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria with 134,000 miles.

“They have their own police force out there now,” Wenner told council.

Wenner said the vehicle would be used by UPMC officers to patrol hospital grounds and to transport prisoners if needed.

Council agreed that if UPMC doesn’t buy the vehicle, it would be placed on Municibid.

Members also briefly discussed an emergency culvert replacement project on Shaffer Run Road set to begin Wednesday.

Sporer said the work will be done by Dick Shingledecker, who expects it to be completed within a week.

The road will be closed for the duration of the project.