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Easton on the lookout for a trolley

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 11 2014 09:00:45 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2014 06:39:34 AM CDT
EASTON, Pa. -

Returning from a trip to Harrisburg to discuss pension reform, Mayor Sal Panto Jr. told City Council Wednesday night progress was being made in the legislature to help cities like Easton that are struggling under state-mandated multimillion dollar annual payments to pension funds for police and firefighters.

Though “some headway” was made in the discussions, Panto said “some legislators had no idea what they were talking about.”

Next year, Easton is facing a $4.3 million payout, up from the $3.8 million it is paying this year, Panto said.

By comparison, the city kicked in only $600,000 in 2007.

“A lot of money,” Panto said. “A lot of money.”

He said there was “not a company in the world” that provides a pension plan like that.

“We may get some movement in the coming months,” Panto said.

In another matter, council gave the green light to advertise for a used trolley that the city would use to shuttle visitors around the downtown during festivals, including Bacon Fest, billed as two days of “Bacon Madness” in November in Centre Square.

Panto said the city needs about $30,000 to make it a reality, and reminded council that the city is “making substantial money in parking (fees),” with $400,000 having been netted since the city hiked parking meter fees.

The city is looking for a 2007/2010 trolley that it can run for 10-15 years, said City Administrator Glenn Steckman.

A new model would cost $150,000 to $180,000, he said.