Petersburg’s Borough Assembly met on April 24th to review the proposed annual budget. Altogether, they’re looking at a $1.5 million increase over last year. A million of that is earmarked for Petersburg’s schools — the School District is asking for a budget increase of a million dollars to offset a major shortfall from last year, as well as to ensure Petersburg’s schools can continue regular programming. 

At the work session, City Manager Steve Giesbrecht says this is a challenging year for budgeting. That’s because the Borough’s insurance rates are rising across the board.

“So, the health insurance, property, casualty, liability — all of those are going up,” said Giesbrecht. “We still don’t know final numbers, for example, on property and healthcare.”

Giesbrecht named inflation and staffing challenges as other significant stressors. He says the only good news for the Borough’s budget is that its sales tax revenue is improving. It’s risen by about a million dollars since 2020.

The Borough is also looking at adjusting their budget for community services. The Mountain View Food Service Program is a meal delivery service for Petersburg’s elderly and homebound individuals. The meal delivery business is seeing an increased demand for meals and a loss of grant funding. So, they’re requesting the Borough quadruple its current budget of $10,500. The Borough is considering doubling the program’s budget instead — landing on $25,000.

Aaron Hankins is the director of Fire and Emergency Services for the Borough. He vouched for the importance of the Food Service Program in the community — saying that it’s not just about the food. He said his department receives a lot of calls for help from meal delivery staff who discover their homebound clients in poor health. 

“We have actually been finding more people sick around town, and in pretty bad states,” said Hankins. “Like, they need to go to the hospital. And it’s the food people who are finding them and calling us. So, there is a benefit to more than just the food.”

The budget proposal also accounts for several major public infrastructure projects. It would replace three failing water mains around town and repair facilities in Petersburg’s South Harbor.

The Borough is planning on paying for the $1.5 million budget increase with money from this year’s windfall from property and sales taxes. It will also pull $1.1 million from its Secure Rural Schools fund. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget in the next three regular meetings. The budget will complete the final reading of the budget on June 5th.