New Castle News

Local News

November 28, 2012

No tax increase anticipated in county’s 2013 budget

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s proposed budget for 2013 shows no tax increase and 3 percent pay raises for county employees.

Tuesday, the county commissioners introduced a proposed spending plan of $93,060,686.

That is 2.64 percent — about $2.4 million — greater than the current year’s budget and utilizes all the county’s surplus funds. It will be available for public inspection for 20 days at the commissioners office at the courthouse and on the county’s website: www.co.lawrence.pa.us.

The proposal leaves the county property tax at 6.263 mills. This is 5.789 mills for general operations, generating about $19.2 million; 0.3645 for debt service, generating approximately $1.2 million; and 0.11 for the Federated Library system, expected to produce $364,132.

The last tax increase was in 2010.

The commissioners plan to adopt the budget on Dec. 18 at their final scheduled meeting of the year.

County controller David Gettings, who participated in assembling the budget, said four categories — general fund, mental health, children and youth, and health services — make up about 80 percent.

Gettings noted labor contracts for the AFSCME and Local 964 unions expire Dec. 31, 2013.

County officials have a concern about the $800,000 in revenues for the county jail, Gettings said. The county anticipates receiving this for continuing to house 50 state inmates at the local jail for the rate of $50 per day.

The state, which ran out of jail cells several years ago, contracted with counties and other states to house prisoners, he explained.

Now, because of changes in sentencing guidelines and in the penal and parole systems, the state is recalling prisoners.

Gettings anticipates the county’s contract will be secure because the local rate is among the lowest in the state.

The county budgets $6 million per year to operate the jail.

County administrator James Gagliano noted county property tax revenues remain stagnant, but the county was able to realize some savings by restructuring bonds, taking advantage of lower interest rates.

Commissioner chairman Dan Vogler said the county anticipates ending the year in the black and carrying over about $200,000 from the current year’s budget to 2013.

“Only a few years ago, we had to shut down the courthouse for two weeks when we ran out of money.”

He commended county department heads for keeping an eye on spending over the past year.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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