The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 5, 2012

Snyder County faces 1-mill tax hike; Montour County holds the line

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— MIDDLEBURG — Taxes may rise slightly in Snyder County under a preliminary $16.28 million spending plan for 2013 approved by the commissioners Tuesday.

Montour County has been able to hold the line on taxes despite the state decreasing funding to the county, according to its commissioners.

The commissioners unveiled a tentative 2013 budget with no tax increase Tuesday. The budget includes general fund expenditures of $7,441,565 and expected revenue of $7,482,657.

Snyder County

“We’re doing everything we can to trim it down,” Chairman Joe Kantz said while unveiling the proposal.

There is a $238,000 shortfall in the projected budget, and taxes could go up by 1 mill, or nearly $430,000, which would hike the average tax bill by about $23 a year.

The board will pore over the budget in the next few weeks to determine areas where cuts should be made before a final spending plan is adopted Dec. 27.

“We’ll be proposing our own (recommended) cuts. I’ll be looking at it very carefully,” majority Republican Commissioner Malcolm Derk said.

Spending in the tentative budget is up about $660,000 over the 2012 spending plan and includes increases in the county jail and Children and Youth Services budgets.

“There are no exorbitant increases,” Kantz said.

The projected Children and Youth budget of $2.86 million is up about $460,000 due to a rising number of placements, and the estimated $3 million jail budget is up about $200,000 due to a larger number of inmates with expensive medical needs.

Kantz attributed rising costs in those areas to a lack of good parenting.

“The problem lies with people who (haven’t) learned to take care of their kids. We can’t afford to raise them,” he said.

Among the proposed additions is $35,500 for a community service supervisor, a position eliminated in the 2012 budget after grant funding expired.

Derk said the board, swayed to return the position to the budget at the recommendation of court officials, is hopeful having an individual oversee offenders sentenced to community service will alleviate the high inmate population at the jail.

Kantz said he’ll also lobby Derk and Minority Commissioner Peggy Chamberlain Roup to approve a $50,000 lighting project at the courthouse.

“I see it as an investment for the future,” said Kantz, estimating energy-efficient lighting would save an annual $2,500. “My dilemma is am I willing to vote for a one-half to 1 mill tax increase to save money in the long run? That’s what I’m trying to work out.”

The board will continue to review the budget at its next public board meeting at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 11.

Montour County

In Montour County, real estate taxes will remain at 3.349 mills and the per capita tax will stay at $5.

The commissioners, who adopted the tentative budget, expect to adopt a 2013 budget at 1 p.m. Dec. 27 in the courthouse.

Until then, the budget will remain on display in the courthouse.

In order to underwrite the 2012 budget, the commissioners increased real estate taxes by one-tenth of a mill because real estate values had remained flat. County employees didn’t receive raises in 2012.

The 2013 budget contains a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for everyone including elected officials and members of the bargaining unit, commissioners Chairman Trevor Finn said.

The 2013 budget will have a $193,000 carryover from this year.