Lebanon City Council packed a lot of business into last night’s regular monthly meeting, which barely lasted half an hour.

First pay increases in five years for mayor and council

Salaries for Lebanon’s top elected officials will be going up for the first time in five years after council unanimously approved pay hikes at last night’s meeting.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, Mayor Sherry Capello will be paid $75,000 annually, up from $62,000. Council’s president and vice president will earn $3,000 annually, up from $2,000. The remaining three council members will see a jump from $2,000 to $2,400.

Council president Joe Morales introduced separate pay raise measures at the July meeting, where council preliminarily approved them. Morales noted then that it had “been five years since we’ve had any increase of salaries for City Council and for the mayor.”

Acting on a suggestion by Councilman Chris Miller, council tied future pay raises for itself and the mayor to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index for urban areas in the northeastern United States of comparable size to the city.

Financing for new City Hall

Council preliminarily approved borrowing $2.4 million through a 30-year bond issue to help finance the purchase and renovation of the Harrisburg Area Community College building at 735 Cumberland St., which will become Lebanon’s new City Hall.

A representative of FSL Public Finance told council last Thursday that now is a good time to borrow money, since the estimated interest rate would be just 2.58%.

The city bought the building on June 29 for $2.2 million, and renovations are underway.

Funding for the entire project — purchase plus renovation to accommodate city offices and the police department — will come from three sources: money borrowed via the bond issue, a $2 million grant from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the sale to Lebanon County of the city’s part of the Lebanon Municipal Building for $2.25 million.

Since the sale of the city’s part of the Municipal Building has not been completed, Capello said that nonprofit organization Growing Lebanon, LLC provided the purchase money for the HACC building on an interim basis, and would be paid back from the bond issue proceeds.

Growing Lebanon is the project’s developer, according to Capello. It is affiliated with members of the Funk family, which owns local contractor Arthur Funk & Sons Inc., and has the same registered address. Arthur Funk & Sons is the city’s construction manager for the HACC project.

According to Capello, the city did not have to seek competitive bids for the construction manager job, since it is considered “professional services” under Pennsylvania law. However, Arthur Funk & Sons has solicited bids for the actual work being performed by the project’s various contractors.

The city hopes to move downtown by May 2022.

Other business before council at its Aug. 23 meeting

  • With the city’s fiscal year 58% complete, Capello reported that revenues received are at 76% of budget projections, and expenses are at 43.5%.
  • Capello told council that she has reappointed Albert Bender to the city’s Planning Commission for a four-year term. He has served on the commission since 1998.
  • The mayor and city attorney Donna Brightbill reported that the sale of the old Northwest Elementary School to a private developer was still not complete, and that issues remain to be worked out between the Lebanon School District, the city, the developer, and PennDOT concerning the pedestrian bridge from the school over 10th Street, a state highway. A court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9.
  • However, anticipating that the old Northwest sale will go through, council passed a bill that would extend for an additional year certain tax breaks available to a private purchaser of the property at 900 Maple St. New construction and major improvements to the property are eligible under the Pennsylvania’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act.

Next council meetings

City Council’s next “pre-council” planning meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m.

Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in council chambers, Room 210, Municipal Building, 400 S. 8th St., Lebanon.

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Chris Coyle

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...