By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — A tentative $17.33 million Snyder County spending plan for 2014 was unanimously adopted despite the commissioners’ vow to trim a nearly $1 million budget shortfall.
“It’s the largest gap we’ve had since I’ve been here. We have a lot of work to do,” board Chairman Joe Kantz said of the $974,052 budget deficit.
Though the county is on track to have $1 million to carry over into the new year, the commissioners said the financial projection isn’t certain and any unspent funds will be needed to fund services that must await state reimbursements. Otherwise, the board said, the county must take out a loan to cover the costs.
Kantz and Commissioners Malcolm Derk and Peggy Chamberlain Roup said they will be working with department leaders to pare spending before approving a final budget on Dec. 31.
They have some ideas about where to start.
Kantz said he will recommend reducing the sheriff department’s proposed $461,656 budget by about $120,000 since it was his suggestion to spend that much on building improvements in the office adjacent to the courthouse in Middleburg.
The county’s public safety budget rose by $363,000 to $5.01 million this year largely due to several planned improvement projects at the emergency communications center off Route 522. Derk said those projects likely will be delayed.
The courts are proposing a budget of $265,100, or $60,000 more than this year, in anticipation of two homicide trials. Scheduled for trial in 2014 are Joshua and Jennifer Snook, the husband and wife who are charged in the fatal stabbing of his grandmother, Bonnie Snook, 71, last February in her Beaver Township home, and the retrial of Seth M. Hornberger, who was granted a new trial following his conviction in the March 2011 stabbing death of Alan Martin, 21, in Selinsgrove.
In October, President Judge Michael H. Sholley canceled trials through the end of 2013 to cut expenses after the court budget was overspent by about $30,000.
The commissioners said they will study department budgets over the next few weeks and hope to adopt a balanced spending plan that carries no tax increase or staff cuts.
“Cutting staff would impact services and the demands for services are greater than ever before,” Roup said.
Derk said all departments will be scrutinized.
“Honestly, everything needs a second look,” he said. Derk said, “There are certain projects that are in this budget right now that we can look at and pare down and delay some of them. There are some building projects and maintenance projects for the sheriff’s office that likely won’t be able to get done next year.”