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Pittston plans to fund skate park

City officials to transfer funds to pay for insurance, utility costs expected with park.

PITTSTON – Officials plan to transfer $20,000 from the city’s debt service fund to the parks and recreation department as a show of support for a proposed skate park on Market Street, Mayor Joe Keating said.

Officials have until Feb. 15 to revise the 2008 budget because last year was a municipal election year. This extension allows newly elected officers to add input to the spending plan.

To make that deadline, city council will meet Feb. 13 instead of Feb. 20.

City officials plan to use the additional funds for the higher insurance and utility costs that would come with the park, Keating said.

Since the facility would be on city-owned property, officials must pay for insurance to protect the city in case someone is injured while skating. The new facility would include outdoor lighting so people could skate at night.

The proposed park would be constructed near the basketball court in the area of the city pool, which is undergoing a citizen-led restoration.

“We truly want to find something the kids can do,” Councilman Joe McLean said. “I think if you give them something and they have a little responsibility, they will really take care of it.”

Area skateboarders are already using the property with makeshift props constructed from old wooden boards, McLean said.

“It’s probably actually more dangerous for them to do that,” he said.

After reviewing the 2008 budget, McLean discovered the city could afford to transfer the money and a portion of 1 mill from the debt service to the parks and recreation department. A mill is a $1 tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The city’s real estate tax revenue is distributed as follows: 27 mills, general fund; 1 mill, library; 7 mills, pension; 10.75 mills, debt service, and 1.25 mills for parks department.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Pittston City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 to vote on a revised 2008 budget.

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