2009-11-12 / Local & State

County Predicts Significant Budget Cuts

Tentative draft to be ready by early December
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Several individuals representing the Fulton County Conservation District Board of Directors learned this week the Fulton County commissioners will be making significant cuts to the 2010 budget in order to reduce spending by “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

County business manager Tim Stanton announced in looking at the District’s audited financial statement dated December 3, 2008, the Conservation District appears to have a healthy surplus in 2008 where revenue exceeded expenditures. In comparison, Stanton said the county has yet to balance its 2010 budget and has a “significant gap” to close between spending and income.

In what turned out to be a slight dispute between the business manager and Bob Swadley, treasurer of the Conservation District Board, and Seleen Shives, director of the Conservation District, the group discussed unrestricted net assets and net surplus. Shives explained the District is slated to carry over $55,000 in special project money through the Chesapeake Bay program into 2010 and an additional $75,000 in Dirt and Gravel Road money.

That money, Shives emphasized, may only be utilized on certain projects. In looking at Dirt and Gravel Road funding, municipalities that have previously received funding include Bethel, Thompson and Union townships. Furthermore, those monies may only be used in fixing township roadways and not privately-owned roads.

Stanton added unexpended revenue is deferred and ultimately does not change net surplus, which totalled $62,133 for the District in 2008.

“I need to see the numbers behind the $62,000. We didn’t pocket $62,000 in 2008,” said Shives. “...We’re not sitting on a big fat roll of money and asking for more. I try to get every dime I can out of the state programs, and what is left is what we ask the county for.”

Commissioner Bonnie Mellott Keefer explained the commissioners are cutting all of their allocations to outside agencies even though a final reduction has not yet been decided on. She did note the amount will be significant, however, and for some smaller appropriations the set amount may be knocked down to zero.

According to Keefer, the allocation to the Fulton County Conservation District is the largest appropriation to an outside agency. While they do not wish to see any employment positions eliminated in the District, their first priority as commissioners remains balancing the county budget.

The two groups went on to discuss the Conservation District’s decision to leave the umbrella of the county and act as its own organization. They also touched on the commissioners’ decision and an agreement to relocate an administrative assistant to their office several years ago, a position that is now funded by the District due to its leaving the county.

Swadley stated even though the District withdrew from the county in accounting and payroll, it in no way seceded from the county. “We serve Fulton County, and we work closely in every way we can with the commissioners ... .It’s not a divorce, it’s just a different way to handle family monies,” he said.

Swadley and Shives were informed a draft of the 2010 budget will be available for review in early December. At that time, a decision may have to be made to eliminate positions or reduce office hours.

In other Conservation District matters, the commissioners appointed Eric Cromer, Russell C. McLucas Jr. and Marvin Richards to positions on the District’s Board of Directors. The trio’s terms of office will expire on December 31, 2013.

The commissioners were reminded the 911 dispatching agreement with Cumberland County is set to expire at the conclusion of 2010. On hand for the meeting were EMA/911 Director Vince Joyce and Sid McConahey of L. Robert Kimball.

Chambersburg-based attorney Tyrone Johnson appeared before the commissioners to discuss possible alternative housing arrangements for a client. In following Johnson’s request, the commissioners allowed Chris Alan Snyder of Hanover to be relocated from the Franklin County Prison to the York County Prison to serve the remainder of his prison term.

Rachel Scheaffer was hired as a Domestic Relations enforcement officer in following the recommendation of Chief Probation Officer Roger Strait and the court administrator.

A safety meeting revealed the county’s experience mod has dropped to .981 percent for the year 2010 based on workers’ compensation claims. As a result, the county’s premium is slated to drop from $45,151 to $34,359.

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