Commissioners Still Slashing Expenses
Allocation requests presented to the Fulton County commissioners were seeing cuts of up to 50 percent on Tuesday as the weeks dwindle down until a tentative nod is given on December 8 to the 2010 general budget.
The Penn State Extension Office was among the departments and organizations to see their request slashed this week. In 2009 the extension office received a total of $29,158, which was typically spent on travel, meals and training. In addition, the county also pays for a fulltime employee with benefits and office rent.
As pointed out by newest commissioner Craig Cutchall, the county should reduce the 2010 allocation by half, since that has been the method followed in recent weeks. As a result, the commissioners agreed to provide the extension office with a total of $14,579.
Jointly tackling the issues of the Area Agency on Aging budget and a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that is set to expire on December 31, the commissioners informed business manager Tim Stanton they could not foresee lowering their annual appropriation while raising the amount paid to the county through the MOA.
At this time, the Agency pays the county a total of $300 per month to cover custodial services as well as an average of $172 per month for electricity. Stanton stated the $300 should actually be raised to $377 monthly to cover custodial services and issues such as fuel have never been addressed. Given that the Agency occupies a quarter of the Neighborhood Services Center building, their portion of fuel expenses should cost $94 per month.
Stanton added the Agency had a balanced budget for the fiscal year of 2008, but unlike the Fulton County Conservation District, it isn’t sitting on unrestricted surplus. The business manager concluded if the county reduced the Agency’s allocation,
Agency officials would not
be able to fall back on surplus .
and would likely have to resort to cutting areas such as employee benefits.
Stanton also touched on Fulton County’s population and related it to the county’s annual payment to the Agency. Stanton’s calculations show Fulton County should only be paying slightly more than $10,000, which is 50 percent less than what is currently being paid.
Stanton’s analysis will be shared with Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Alan Smith next Tuesday before a final decision is rendered by the commissioners.
In a follow-up motion, the commissioners approved a resolution permitting the Agency to extend its line of credit by $750,000 with Susquehanna Bank.
Stanton concluded the county is better off now than in comparison to the beginning of 2009 when the county began the year with a $300,000 shortfall. He said by tightening the belt and cost containment, the county has cut the shortfall down to $15,000 with six weeks remaining in the current year.
Chief Clerk Dan Swain mentioned the possibility of having located a potential site for an al- ternate courtroom location during remodeling of the courtroom. The commissioners opted to set aside $2,000 in the 2010 budget to cover any rental and custodial costs associated with the temporary move.
A discussion was also held to push back the work until phase three of the renovation project, in order to help determine what money could be available to help with technology-related improvements in the courtroom. The topic will be discussed with the building project architect.
Recapping a prior conversation, the business manager reminded the commissioners the opportunity exists to participate in a 10-week healthy living program organized by County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP). The program focuses on weight loss reduction, and a total of 10 county employees have signed up to participate to date.
County employees from Potter County won the last competition by shedding a total of 5.44 percent of their combined body weight. The group took home prize of $2,000. Participating Fulton County employees have decided if they win the top prize, they will donate their earnings to charity.
Mary K. Seville and Steve Thomas of the mapping and planning office discussed a shortage in Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) funding to complete the ongoing stormwater management project. Thomas stated phase two of the project is 30 percent complete at this time.
Knowing the county is unable to come up with the approximate $60,000 needed to finish the plan, Seville and Thomas mentioned speaking to the participating townships to gauge their interest in donating $1,000 to $2,000 to the project. Participating townships receive guidance as well as ordinances regarding stormwater management.
In the meantime, Thomas is expected to meet with HRG and DEP officials to discuss how much work can be completed with limited funding.
County planning board of directors reappointed this week to an additional four-year term of office include Fred Fleming, Jeremy Fletcher and Scott Knepper.
Several representatives of the Fulton Industrial Development Association (FIDA), including David Washabaugh, Robert Snyder, Paul Johnston, Clyde Bookheimer, Jason Hawkins and John Duffey, appeared before the commissioners to discuss the submission of an application for funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission by December 1. The funding, if approved, would provide money for a variety of endeavors such as employment of a part-time employee, creation of a Web site and marketing of available lots at the Business Park.
Due to high unemployment in the county, the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAPDC) currently views this project as important in the region. SAPDC Planning Director Fred Querry spoke to the group via conference call on the issue.
The amount requested through the application totals $24,000 and will be matched by the county’s annual allocation to the FIDA. The money will be spent over a two-year period with hopes of the organization becoming sufficient by the start of the third year.
The commissioners were updated on the statewide recount for Pennsylvania Superior Court. An option, which was unanimously agreed upon by the commissioners, was presented for the county to pay $1 per ballot cast to have ES&S utilize its central scan system. The county will in turn receive state reimbursement in the amount of $50 per ballot box.
The system is capable of processing between 3,000 and 4,000 ballots during the course of an hour. An estimated 3,000 ballots were cast during the November 3 general municipal election. The recount will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
A representative of CGI Communications based in Rochester, N.Y., spoke with the commissioners on a conference call to discuss a NACo- endorsed program that will allow for counties to receive free video clips of their area for online marketing purposes. The county has up to two weeks to decide if it wishes to pursue participating in the program.