2012-10-24 / Local & State

County Eyeing 2013 Budget Figures

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

The Fulton County commissioners and business manager Tim Stanton continued their overview of the 2013 budget on Tuesday, specifically looking at numbers that have not been locked into the proposed document such as certain maintenance expenses and vehicles.

Stanton told commissioners Rodney McCray, Craig Cutchall and Irvin Dasher court-appointed legal counsel costs are expected to increase in 2013 as is debt service. Debt service will also go up again the following year due to additional principal payments.

Stanton also launched into a lengthy discussion on the 911 wireless fund account, which could likely be subsidized in part by the county’s general budget next year. In prior years the county’s 911 wireless fund was fully reimbursed.

The business manager said he has personally contacted Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency regarding the issue and referred to the organization as being “insolvent” on a state level. He added in reality the county is only receiving around 77 percent reimbursement.

Stanton said the conflict lies between PEMA and legislators, who are reportedly unwilling to approve increases in cellphone surcharges and fees.

Hearing they could be on the hook for $50,150 in 911 wireless expenses, the commissioners began debating ways to reduce that particular budget line item. Fees associated with the account include $30,000 in consultation fees and an additional $36,000 for equipment maintenance contracts.

Possibly the biggest savings for the commissioners would be the elimination of the county’s 911 backup dispatch center. They are likely to sit down with county EMA Director Ruth Strait and consultant Sid McConahey to discuss the matter further.

Stanton went on to discuss several items that haven’t been loaded into his current budget calculations for 2013. Among those are a $6,600 maintenance agreement for the geothermal loop; $67,000 for new vehicles for the sheriff’s office; any requested increases from outside entities such as the hospital, Conservation District, extension office, Area Agency on Aging and the library. The library, according to Stanton, has requested in writing an increase of $2,500 that would bring its allotment to $10,000 if approved. He noted these agencies typically appear in person before the commissioners to justify their request.

Commissioner Dasher asked the board to consider adding a position to be shared by the tax assessment and planning offices. The individual could oversee the unified parcel identifier (UPI), in the event it is implemented, as well as various office duties. The position would likely be funded after a year through UPI.

Dasher said those departments are in need of help. He added that a person has one head and the county should stop making one person wear five hats. “When you divide resources, you divide efficiency,” he said.

The commissioners agreed to lock a full-time person with benefits into the budget figures while they continue their discussion.

In other matters, the commissioners hired Mary Hann as a juvenile probation officer at an hourly rate of $14.81. Hann’s employment is slated to begin Nov. 5.

On Tuesday, October 16, the commissioners signed a notice of intent to award the courthouse roof-replacement project to R.H. Bunch Construction LLC for the amount of $57,000.

The commissioners penned a letter to PennDOT requesting the encumbrance of $18,000 of 2012 Liquid Fuels funds to 2013 for an alley paving project in Mc- Connellsburg Borough. The commissioners noted that the alleys to be repaved pass through or along county property.

A lease agreement was signed with the McConnellsburg United Methodist Church for the use of Mc- Connell Park on October 19.

A letter was signed accepting the Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy Grant for the period beginning October 1, 2012, and ending September 30, 2014.

The commissioners also penned an agreement with the Fulton County Catholic Mission to serve as the subgrant administering agency to administer the $14,000 Housing Assistance Grant between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts for the purpose of holding a permanency practice initiative education workshop prior to December 15, 2012, at a cost not to exceed $2,500.

Agreements were approved with several Services for Children service providers, including Vision- Quest National Ltd., Appalachian Youth Services Inc., and MacGregor Behavioral Health Services.

The commissioners and business manager Tim Stanton reviewed the preliminary 2013 budget information. It was pointed out for the first time in seven years, expected tax revenues will be lower than the previous year. The drop in funding is due to some recent tax appeals in which real estate property assessments were lowered.

A contract was awarded to Gelvin & Son LLC in the amount of $3,325 to replace the roof and trim on the band shell.

The commissioners met with Chief Probation Officer Dan Miller, who received verbal permission to purchase a handgun for his department.

EMA/911 Director Ruth Strait presented documents to the commissioners for consideration in renewing the county’s Triennial 911 Plan. Also while meeting with Strait, the commissioners adopted a resolution approving the revised 9-1-1 telephone access plan for the residents of Fulton County.

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