Although Schuylkill County did not finish in a deficit at the end of 2009 the projection for 2010 shows it may end with more than a $3 million deficit, was the gloomy picture painted by Financial Officer Paul Buber at the public meeting of the county commissioners held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

"With respect to our fiscal year that ended Dec. 31, 2009, " Buber reported, "I am happy to report the estimated excess of revenue over expenditures for the general fund was $1.9 million. This is only a preliminary number and is subject to change. The county is currently undergoing an external audit by an outside and independent CPA firm and the preliminary number will be subjct to change because of possible audit adjustments."

About the current year Buber reported,"Our first quarter of 2010 ended March 31 and the total geneal fund revenue collected was about $7.8 million and the total general fund expenses were about $10.9 million. Because there is a budgetary shortfall and expenditures will continue to exceed collected revenues the county will be drawing down on the unrestricted fund balance to cover the shortfall during the year."

For the first time the county did borrow money from a bank to pay its bills until tax monies started arriving, instead, borrowed the money from its Debt Service Fund. The county now has repaid $1 million it borrowed. Buber said this action saved the county about $30,000 in interest payments.

The county's general fund millage from which it derives tax monies is 11.42 mills and the funded debt is .56 of a mill for total millage of 11.98 mills. The general fund budgetary revenues are predicted at $45,240,816 and the anticipated expenditures at $48,749,972. Also the county does not know how much in federal and state monies it will receive this year and many of the services it provides are mandated by state law whether monies are received are not received.

Mark Scarbinsky, county fiscal administrator, said the policy imposed last year remains to downside or combine jobs and every bill is scrutinized from a $12 to $50,000 bill.

Approve change orders

A number of change orders were approved for the renovation project which is underway for the Sweet Arrow Lake County Park Pavilion in Pine Grove Township in amount of $7,444.21.

A professional services agreement with Maximus Consulting Services Inc., for development of central services cost allocation plan for 2009, 2010 and 2011 were approved at a cost of $42,000.

Three contracts were approved for Rest Haven Home and Hospital. A contract was entered with Orwigsburg ambulance for the provision on non-emergency litter and wheelchair transport of hospital residents. The cost of the contract is for $20,000 for period from April 29 to April 14, 2011. A contract was entered with Central Solutions, LLC, Duncansville, and Aaron North Inc., Allentown, for provision of temporary nurse staffing.

On behalf of Office of Senior Services, a contract with Philip McArdle, Andreas, for home modifications, $3,475; Avenues for adult day care services, $187,090; ReDCo Group, adult day care services, $282,536; and Golden Years Adult Center, adult day care, $132,750.

On behalf of Children and Youth Services Agency purchases of service agreements were entered with, Families United Network, Muncy, for medical foster care at $25.60 per diem and community residential, $160.68 per diem; with Glen Mills School, Concordville, for residential program at $101.03 per diem and restitution, $106.34 per diem; with George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania, Grove City, intensive supervision, $284.37 per diem; with Summit Academy, Pittsburgh, for summit residential at $99.20 per diem; drug and alcohol program, $165.40 per diem and Sleepy Hollow program, $190.35 per diem; with George Willliams, Ashland, for foster care orientation, $400 per diem and foster parent training, $400.

On behalf Drug and Alcohol Agency fee for service contracts were entered with, Clinical Outcomes Group Inc., Pottsville, for screening, assessment and referrral, adult outpatient and adult intensive outpatient service, $5,000 contract cap; with Kathleen Travenner Mitchell, Olney, Md., to provide fetal alcohol syndrome training, $3,000; and Minersville Area School District, provide alternative activity, $1,584.

On behalf Engineering Department an agreement was entered with WJP Engineers for professional services to be performed at Eagle Rock Resort, East Union Township, for improvements and inspection of its subdivision Phases 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and Algonquin. Eagle Rock Resorts Company, Hazleton, will reimburse the costs of the inspection services.

Awards were presented by the three commissioners to the winners of the 2009 annual phonebook recycling contest which was sponsored by the Solid Waste Department and Schuylkill, Keep it Pretty organization.

In the personnel department the commissioners approved the hiring of Renae Baptiste, Shenandoah, as an aging care manager 2 with Office of Senior Services and the salary board set her salary at $13.41 per hour. The board also approved the promotion of Stacey Steckley, Schuylkill Haven, from clerk typist 2 to aging care aide 2 with the agency and the salary was set at $10.16 per hour.

The commissioners were informed Laura Bennett, Barnesville, resigned as a clerk with the Office of Senioir Services; James Ketner, Pottsville, and Stacy Schlauch, Zion Grove, both were promoted in the probation juvenile department from juvenile officer 1 to juvenile officer 2 and given a pay increase to $23.31 per hour. Joseph Minchoff, Blythe Township, resigned from the maintenance department and Krista Riedel, Ashland, as fiscal technician from the Human Services Department.

Retirement board

The Schuylkill County Employees Retirement Board held its monthly meeting following the commissioners meeting and Controller Melinda Kantner, who is the secretary, reported the market value of the fund has risen as of Wednesday to $89,816,649. It has been recovering slowly after dropping from $90 million to $75 million during the recession.