No tax hike in county
Spending many grueling hours of preparation, the financial team presented to the Schuylkill County commissioners at Wednesday's public meeting a preliminary budget for 2013, which calls for no increase in taxes despite the prediction that the revenues will fall short to meet the expenditures.
Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier proudly pointed out that for the ninth straight year there will be no tax increase and lauded the row office heads and employees for not exceeding their budget. Action to adopt the budget will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Paul Murphy, the financial officer, prepared the resolution for the budget's adoption. The anticipated preliminary budgetary revenues for all funds is estimated at $150,777,271; and anticipated expenditures at $157,644,133. The general fund revenues are being projected at $45,435,692 and expenditures at $47,692.177, which is a shortfall of $2,256,485. The general fund budget is only $73,429 more than 2012 original budget for general fund revenues.
In regard to the makeup of the general fund budgetary revenues, the components consist of real estate tax collection, which remains the core at 61 percent. The real estate millage proposed for 2013 remains at 11.98 mills, to include 11.42 mills on properties for 2013 general fund accounting (114.2 cents on each $100 assessed valuation). The charge for services is 18 percent, which consists of .56 of a mill for the 2013 funded debt account (5.6 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation) and the per capita tax, which represents 1 percent of taxes, remains at $5 per adult.
In summary, the 2013 preliminary budgetary revenues for the general fund are projected to be about $2,256,485 or 4.7 percent less than what is needed to balance the budgetary expenditures for the general fund. To balance the budget, monies will be taken from the reserve fund.
The fund was created years ago when the economy was in much better shape. The unexpended funds from each year's budget was placed in this fund. For the last four years the board of commissioners had to dip into this fund to balance the budget and not raise taxes. At one time there was $10 million in the fund; however, under the state's accounting standard, it can't be lowered below $8 million in one year.
The anticipated expenditures for the funded debt account is $1,417,255 for debt service in accordance with the long term debt payment schedules to be offset by projected revenues in the amount of $1,417.255.
The budget for Rest Haven Home is set at $12,206,627, with anticipated revenues of $12,206,627; for the 9-1-1 communication center, $6,371,054 with projected revenues of $4,620,352; for capital projects, the projected expenditure is $20,732,9021 and anticipated new revenue at $20,448,994; for workers' compensation, anticipated expenditure at $502,500, and projected revenues at $765,950; for conduit accounts, such as Community Development Block Grants (CDGB), DUI, county transportation authority, affordable housing, and economic opportunity council, the anticipated expenditures are $28,950,448 and projected revenues are at $27,469,529.
The budget for special revenue accounts shows expenditures exceed revenues in five of the 10 departments, but it was explained by the fiscal team that this does not mean borrowing money because these accounts have balances from current accounts.
Liquid fuels, expenditures, $2,160,278 and revenues, $703,000; demolition, expenditures, $248,000 and revenues, $345,750; farmland preservation, expenditures, $20,054 and revenues, $20,054; human service complex, expenditures, $241,575 and revenues, $241,575; other agency funds, expenditures, $3,025,103 and revenues, $2,985,197; Office of Senior Service, expenditures, $6,576,232 and revenues, $6,576,232; Drug and Alcohol Agency, expenditures, $2,044,596 and revenues, $2,044,596.
Also, Mental Health, expenditures, $6,598,300 and revenues, $6,598,300; Children and Youth Services Agency, expenditures, $16,535,154 and revenues, $16,535,154 and Domestic Relations Department, expenditures, $2,221,878 and revenues, $2,363,015.