2009-09-03 / Local & State

State Budget Could Cause Financial Issues

County opens bids for first phase of renovation project; town meeting Thursday in Wells Tannery
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

The Fulton County commissioners and their business manager pondered the fate of their finances on Tuesday with much of the outcome resting on when and if an agreement can be reached on the commonwealth's budget.

Business manger Tim Stanton told the commissioners he has been reassured by state officials that money owed to the county for various programs and departments during the 2008-09 fiscal year ending June 30 will be paid. In addition, money that was already to have been sent to the county for the new 2009-10 FY will not be sent until the budget impasse is resolved. Following the approval of a state budget, a time period of up to four weeks will be needed to process payment checks.

Under questioning by the commissioners, Stanton said that if the state budget is not close to being passed by mid- November, the county will want to begin reviewing what financial options are available. The business manager added "real trouble" for the county will start nearly a month later.

Various organizations such as Franklin/Fulton Drug & Alcohol and Mental Health/Mental Retardation and the Center for Community Action are taking steps to continue operations as normal. Other local offices and departments ranging from Services for Children and the Fulton County Partnership to the Victim Witness Program and EMA/911 will likely encounter financial difficulties as well.

Stanton said the possibility exists in January for the county to apply for a tax anticipation note, and in the meantime he would begin searching through the budget to locate money under county expenditures that was to have been but was not actually spent in the predicted time frame.

Stanton promised to update the commissioners weekly on the situation, which could result in a tightening of the belt in December and holding off on paying vendor bills.

Stanton also presented commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer and David Hoover II with a total of three budget transfers, including an adjustment made to the retirement fund's bottom line. The change will have a positive effect on the budget that in the past has relied on carryover from prior fund balances. It was predicted at the conclusion of five years, the county will have recouped its losses associated with the retirement fund.

The commissioners conducted a very well-attended bid opening for the first phase of the county renovation project. A total of 15 individuals were on hand representing various electrical, heating, plumbing and general construction companies as well as Bill Trout of Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates.

A total of seven bids were submitted under the category of general construction with Rockwell Construction Co. of Mercersburg having the lowest recorded bid in the amount of $139,000. Additional bidders included R.A. Hill Construction Co., $153,000; McCoy Bros. Inc., $178,000; Palmer Construction Co. Inc., $184,000; GRC General Contractor Inc., $203,000; J.C. Orr & Son Inc., $207,304; and George S. Hann & Son, $213,120.

Five bids were recorded for HVAC construction related to the project. Stouffer Mechanical from Chambersburg submitted a low bid of $489,968.78 for the work, while Rodney B. Smith Plumbing and Heating followed with $492,787. Eshenaurs Fuels Inc. had a recorded bid of $511,800, and M.S. Johnston Co. and Musser Electrical had respective bids totalling $548,100 and $556,000.

Rodney B. Smith Plumbing and Heating turned in a bid for plumbing that tallied $28,465. Additional bidders included K&K Plumbing, $29,800; Eshenauers Fuels Inc., $33,950; Stouffer Mechanical, $37,950; and Carl E. Frantz Inc., $40,845.

Electrical bids recorded during the bid opening were $152,500 from Keystone Electric; $155,892 from R&S Electric LLC; $181,500 from CV Services Inc.; and $188,923 from B&B Designed Systems Inc.

All submitted bids were tabled pending further review from Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates and county solicitor Stanley Kerlin.

In mapping out the remainder of the week, the commissioners reported their next town meeting has been set for Thursday, September 3, at the Wells Tannery Community Park starting at 7 p.m.

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