MORRISVILLE, Pa. (CBS) — There could also be a government shutdown in Morrisville, Bucks County, as the new year arrives.
After Morrisville council members passed a $7 million budget without a tax increase on Dec. 17, the borough’s mayor stepped in and vetoed the tax ordinance on Christmas Eve. That veto can now prompt a government shutdown if it’s not resolved by Jan. 1.
“You either vote to override this or a motion will be in order to or the motion is not carried at that point, government closes down at New Year’s Eve at midnight,” said attorney Randall Flager.
The council’s five to three vote fell one vote shy needed to push the veto override through. Now, the council president, borough manager, and attorney are seeking a court order from a Bucks County common pleas judge to keep the government running past Jan. 1.
If a shutdown happens, borough staff would be furloughed and trash collection would be impacted, but emergency services would remain.
“I’m not trying to push this more but I need to make the residents aware of what’s going on,” said Mayor David Rivella.
Rivella says his veto was an attempt to avoid laying off one of 10 full-time police officers.
“I felt obligated for the Morrisville community to do the veto. The veto isn’t political. It isn’t a favor for the chief of police. It’s simply about public safety. There’s no way that I could’ve stood by and let the council cut one full-time police officer. I can’t rubber-stamp such a budget or tax ordinance that would allow that,” explained Rivella.
In court, both Council President Debbie Smith and Borough Manager Scott Mitchell took the stand and testified that the mayor’s arguments in his veto were about the budget and not the tax ordinance, which is what he vetoed.
They also mentioned to the judge that there are eight approved part-time police officer positions in the borough, which allows up to 30 hours a week.
The judge wants to see the borough and council presidents back here on Friday at noon. He also wants to hear from the mayor.