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Altoona adopts 2022 budget

City Council on Wednesday adopted a $35 million budget with no tax increase for next year.

“Nothing has changed since we introduced (the budget last month),” said City Manager Omar Strohm after the meeting. “We wanted to make sure we held down taxes, and we did.”

The plan calls for spending $2.2 million more than called for in the 2021 budget, with the additional money coming from Altoona’s $39 million American Rescue Plan allocation.

The ARP money would pay to “reconstitute” most of the positions eliminated by the 2021 budget, which presumed that revenues this year would be lower due to COVID-19.

The newly adopted budget calls for adding five officers and a deputy chief in the police department, two firefighters, a deputy chief and an administrative support worker in the fire department and an electrical lineman and engineering tech in the public works department.

The loss of those positions at the beginning of this year has led to some work not being performed and to excess overtime, Strohm said previously.

The new budget also calls for restoring the posts of community development director and part-time legislative aide in the mayor’s office and the creation of the new post of utility cut manager.

At the suggestion of Councilman Jesse Ickes, Strohm will find out the cost of adding an audit of the Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission to the upcoming task of auditing the city’s 2021 finances.

Young, Oakes, Brown & Co. is the city’s regular auditor.

A couple of community observers for years have pushed for a CBRC audit.

The CBRC is a council of governments and audits are not mandatory, its solicitor, Dan Stants, has said.

A decade or more ago, a partial audit was conducted of the commission.

Strohm will bring the YOBCO estimate to council at a meeting after the New Year.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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