County Budget Now On Display
The Fulton County commissioners publicly released their budget summary as well as a detailed listing of tentative expenditures and revenues for the 2014 calendar year last Wednesday morning.
Found on the county’s Web site as well as at the commissioners’ office, the proposed budget lists both expenses and income for next year at $6,915,334. The balanced budget was achieved in part by a one-quarter mill increase, which could potentially raise county real estate taxes from its current level of 12.15 to 12.40 mills. Final adoption of the budget and tax rate is set for Tuesday, December 17.
In a budget summary, the commissioners indicated the 2014 general fund includes a $35,250 transfer to the “capital project reserve fund” to fund future capital expenses. Furthermore, without the .25 mill increase the county would have been starting out 2014 in the red with a deficit of $88,193.
“The mill increase will fund the capital expenditures program for the county and offset the deficit,” commissioners Rodney McCray, Craig Cutchall and Irvin Dasher said. “Without the millage adjustment, tax revenue to the county would be flat. Normally, tax revenue would be increasing without a millage adjustment. Flat tax revenue indicates little economic growth in the county. Tax revenue is the main source of the county’s revenue and represents 70 percent of the total revenue.”
As in recent years, the commissioners pointed out department managers were required to justify any cost increases beyond levels established in the current 2013 budget through appropriate documentation. Proposed expenditures were also reportedly compared to a five-year budget trend, according to the commissioners, who added they will continue to look for opportunities to control costs while maintaining a professional staff.
In connection with the proposed millage increase, the county’s statement of revenues and expenditures indicates taxes in the 2014 proposed budget are at $4,412,997, which is an increase from the $4,293,063 included in the 2013 original budget. Delinquent taxes through the tax claim office are expected to increase by $5,000 to a new level of $225,000, while income related to sheriff sales will rise from $18,000 to $21,000. Pistol permits are anticipated to generate $10,000, a $3,000 increase from 2013, and income from the magisterial district judges will jump from $154,000 to $162,000.
Meanwhile on the expense side, salaries of elected officials are to decrease. As part of the original 2013 budget, elected officials were to be paid $508,983. That amount is slated to drop to $503,122 next year.
In comparison, department head salaries are tentatively slated to rise from $518,759 to $524,581. Salary for staff will decrease from $770,239 to $765,425, and professional staff salaries will jump from $623,583 to $634,698. Part-time staff salaries will also increase from their current level of $25,417 to $42,522.
However, overtime compensation was greatly reduced from $21,000 to $2,500.
As one of the largest expenses for county employees, and also one that fluctuates year to year, health insurance for 2014 has been listed at $643,500. In 2013, the county paid $535,000 for employee health insurance.
Specialized legal services are also projected to see an increase next year with expenses rising from $38,300 to $63,300.
Several organizations receiving financial assistance from the county in the past will continue to see support in 2014. Unchanged from their current allotment, the Fulton Industrial Development Association will continue to receive $12,000, and Penn State Extension will receive $14,579. Other recipients include the Fulton County Conservation District at $38,000 and the Fulton County Library at $10,000. Fulton County Medical Center’s prior allotment of $10,000 was eliminated.
Residents interested in reviewing the 90-page budget document online can do so at www.co.fulton. pa.us or by stopping by the commissioners’ office located in the Neighborhood Service Center on West Market Street.