White Oak council has passed the borough's 2018 budget with no tax increase --- but with the caveat that it may re-open the spending plan next month.
And they did so without Council President Ron Massung, who resigned from borough council after 26 years.
At a special meeting Thursday, council voted 6-0 to accept the $5.4 million budget, which fixes real estate taxes at 6.66 mills. Borough Manager John Palyo said the total spending plan is roughly the same as the 2017 budget.
But, Palyo said, with new council members being seated on Jan. 2, they may exercise their prerogative to re-open the budget. Under the state's borough code, they would have until Feb. 15 to do so.
"Being a reorganization year, the new council is going to want to look at everything that has been proposed," Palyo said.
When the new council is seated, Massung will not be a part of it.
The council president, who had two years remaining on his term, sent a letter to his colleagues saying that he was stepping down with "mixed feelings" and said it had been a "pleasure and an honor" to serve the borough, but that he was looking forward to spending more time with his family and tackling some projects that he had placed on "the back burner."
"It is now time for me to go forward," Massung wrote, adding "my heart will always be with you."
The remaining years on Massung's term will be filled by former White Oak police chief Lou Bender, who retired Dec. 15 after 25 years of service with the borough. Bender had served as chief since 2013.
Council voted 4-2 to appoint Bender to Massung's vacant seat.
Sgt. Bob Loera is serving as officer-in-charge of the police department pending a search for Bender's replacement, Palyo said.
It will be up to the incoming borough council to decide when and where to advertise for a new chief, he said.
Council will hold its reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 at the municipal building, 2280 Lincoln Way. A workshop meeting will be held Jan. 3, Palyo said.
Originally published December 29, 2017.