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Union County Commissioners Adopt 2012 Budget

No tax increase for 2012

UNION COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ADOPT 2012 BUDGET

No tax increase for 2012 as efforts are enhanced to reduce inmate incarceration.

Lewisburg, PA-December 30, 2011. The Union County Board of Commissioners today adopted the 2012 General Operating Budget for Union County. The final budget version approved calls for a total county spending plan of $19,983,628 and no tax increase (Union County’s fourth consecutive year without a tax increase). With current year obligations paid, the $289,117 difference between planned spending and projected 2012 revenues of $19,694,511 will be covered by the county’s fund balance. Commissioners cut $1,007,925 from the tentative 2012 budget document placed on the table for review on December 6, 2011.

“The big news of this budget,” declared Commissioner Chair Preston Boop “Is that Union County manages to buck the local government trend of paying for declining state and federal revenues with an increase on county property taxes.” Commissioner John Mathias added, “The cooperation of Union County elected officials, department heads, and dedicated employees together with the financial stewardship of the County Administrator/Chief Clerk Dianna Robinson are key to the county’s ability to provide one more time increased value for the same tax dollar investment.” Commissioner John Showers noted, “The Commissioners timely refinancing of the Great Stream Commons bond issue in late 2010 has enabled the county taxpayers to again elude one more year of making bond payments with county tax dollars.”

2012 Union County General Fund Budget highlights include:

A. $325,000 is budgeted for merit/step and other salary scale adjustments in 2012 for Union County employees. Union County employees have not received merit or step increases for two years as an effort at county cost containment during the downturn of the economy. The Commissioners and County Treasurer will shortly begin review of the recommendations of a new merit/step plan as proposed by a recently completed consultant’s study of the county employee compensation structure. These increases will be retroactive to January 1, 2012 when placed in operation early in the year.

B. An expanded investment and effort is offered with alternatives to county prison incarceration; turning lives around, restoring families, reducing the costs of inmate housing, reducing financial and time management impacts on the courts, and saving valuable county and state tax dollars in the administration of the county’s Office of Children & Youth Services. Expanded efforts in 2012 include a solid commitment of the Board of Commissioners to continue the court’s DUI and Drug Courts, continuation of the Union County Community Service Coordinator (began in August 2011) to place court offenders in valuable community service positions, and opening a day reporting center offering the court one more alternative to costly jail housing. This day reporting center opening later in 2012 will result in two additional county employees being hired; a program coordinator and an administrative assistant at the center. Union County has been promised a $128,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to assist in the opening and initial operation of the center.

C. The expected 2012 gift of the Federal Reserve Center in Kelly Township to Union County will also allow for storage of equipment, supplies, and vehicles used by the county’s Emergency Services department. This budget reflects those operations.

D. The 2012 budget cuts no county employees and adds a second county IT employee to deal with the growing county investment in computers and technology.

E. The budget calls for the expenditure of $75,128 for efforts to expand digital technology and services in the Union County Office of Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts, and the Office of Register and Recorder.

F. The new budget picks up for the first time increased bond payments ($329,655) for the financing of a new emergency radio system for Union County and upper Northumberland County. Union County Commissioners are working to seek a greater financial contribution for emergency 9-1-1 services provided to upper Northumberland County.

G. For the most part, annual contributions to cooperating and outside county agencies remain the same. We are pleased to include a $15,000 grant to the Mediation Center this year.

H. In keeping with the Commissioners’ commitments made in “Cultivating Community: A Plan for Union County’s Future” (Union County’s Comprehensive Plan), Union County’s annual appropriation for Agriculture Land Preservation continues at the same investment of $125,000. Investment in Union County’s farmland preservation began in 1990 and has continued annually since.

I. An additional $1500 was included to prepare for the Union County’s 2013 Bicentennial Celebration.

J. The 2012 county budget also includes growing payments for county employee health care insurance ($1,145,000) and for the county retirement system ($725,000).

K. Capital projects are financed by the county’s Capital Reserve Fund which is used to finance the county’s long-term facilities renewal and replacement plan. The county’s annual contributions to the reserve have averaged approximately $275,000 in recent years. These projects for 2012, include among other minor projects, the replacement of the roof membrane system at the County Government Center at Mifflinburg and upgrades and replacements in the courthouse HVAC system to improve air quality in the 1855 courthouse and addition.

L. The county’s policy is to maintain operating fund balances in the neighborhood of $2 million to fund cash flow needs and other contingencies. For 2012, our anticipated fund balance allows us to comfortably finance the projected budget shortfall and maintain our reserve policy.

The Union County Commissioners stated in a 2012 budget directive to county elected officials and department heads on September 15, 2011, “As we stated in our memo last year, our over-riding goal is a government that is effective, efficient and economical. It is imperative that our budget reflect that goal, while not increasing if at all possible the millage rate on real estate taxes.” Commissioners Boop, Showers, and Mathias concluded, “To that end, our work has been accomplished. Happy New Year!”

The new Union County 2012 budget will be available for inspection at both the Commissioners Office located the Union County Government Center and at the Commissioners Satellite Office at the Union County Courthouse at 103 South 2nd. Street in Lewisburg. Early next week, copies of the 2012 budget will also available for inspection at all branches of the Union County Public Library system in Lewisburg, Mifflinburg, and Laurelton.

Contact: Union County Board of Commissioners

Union County Government Center

155 North 15th Street

Lewisburg, PA 17837

Telephone: 570-524-8631

Preston Boop, Chair

John Showers, Vice-Chair

John Mathias, Secretary

Dee Robinson, County Administrator/Chief Clerk

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