While many county and state governments experienced deficits in their budgets last year, Schuylkill County finished the fiscal year with a surplus of $1,273,710. The surplus was reported this week by Paul Straka, county budget director and Paul Buber, financial officer.
The windfall came from the Children and Youth Service agency budget. In 2010, the county budgeted $4,042,078 for the agency, due to short changes by the state and federal governments in 2009 and 2010. As a mandated program by law, the county must maintain the agency despite losses in funding. However, during 2010 both the state and federal government came up with more cash than expected, so the county only had to allocate $2,532,000, which was a savings of $1,510,078.
The county's overall budget for 2010 was $142 million, with the general fund budget set at $43,683,595. Actual expenditures came in at $42,409,885 which was a savings of $1,384,788. The overage in the general fund added to the surplus in the C&Y budget brought the total savings to $2,707.788. Some of the money was used to pay off a loan, which gave the county a net savings of $1,273,710.
Buber explained most expenditures come from the general fund and the county, knowing the income would be down due to the economy, took extreme steps in coming up with savings without reducing services or increasing taxes. Straka reported county savings came from job consolidations, as well as a decrease in the cost of worker's compensation. He credited placing Martina Chwastiak in the role as Risk Manager as helping to reduce the costs by taking steps to reduce work place accidents.
Another savings was the development of a plan for energy efficient lighting, as well as goal and gas compatible boilers in the courthouse, prison and Rest Haven Home. The courthouse and prison use both gas and coal for heating while Rest Haven uses only gas. The upgrades cost $42.6 million and were installed in 2009. The county saved $81,687 in heating costs. Straka noted the county is using 18.5 percent less electricity across the board for all of its buildings.
While the report for 2010 was excellent, the outlook for 2011 does not appear as bright. The budget prepared for this year estimates a deficit of $3.2 million. To make up the deficit, the county plans no tax hike but will take the funds from a reserve account.