The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Thursday, March 23, 2000


How high is the city’s debt?

By Kristen Garrett
Herald Staff Writer

Sharon council members would like to know just how deep in debt the city is.

The city’s debt has been in question since council members began budget discussions in November. At one point Councilman George Gulla said the city is paying on a $16 million debt.

John Mastrian of Black, Bashor and Porsche, the city’s accounting firm, said last Thursday the city owes $9 million and Finance Director Michael Gasparich agreed.

But Gulla said Wednesday that a June 1999 report shows the city is $14.5 million in the hole. He said the debt has been accruing for years.

“What is it, Mike, $9 million, $14 million or $16 million?,” Councilman Lou Rotunno asked Gasparich.

Gasparich said last Thursday $9 million is the principal amount of debt on the sewer fund and PENNVEST loans reported to the state, and that amount is accurate.

A pre-audit report shows the actual debt of the city is $13.9 million. That figure includes the sewer fund debt and every other account debt the city has, Gasparich said.

Gasparich said the Upper Shenango Valley Water Pollution Control Authority will pay one-third of a $7.4 million PENNVEST loan, bringing the city’s actual, total debt to about $11.5 million. President Fred Hoffman said when the city’s audit report is complete in June there will be an accurate number. Gulla and Rotunno want it sooner.

Another problem plaguing the city is late fees and credit cutoffs by companies. Councilman Raymond Fabian asked Gasparich how much the city has paid in late fees to Pennsylvania Power Co. in 10 years for the city’s electricity. Fabian said he estimated it was close to $200,000, but Gasparich said that was not true.

Gasparich said the city has paid about $6,000 a year in late fees to Penn Power. “Late fees and credit cutoffs are history,” Gulla said, adding that in 2000 every bill had better be paid on time. Gasparich said that’s something he can’t guarantee.

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