No tax increase included in 2012 proposed Franklin County budget

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Franklin County Commissioners put forward a preliminary budget thick week for 2012 that holds the line on taxes.

“Government needs to live within its means, and this budget is based on that principle,” said David Keller, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Chief Administrator John Hart presented the proposed budget of $121,765,600 to the board Tuesday. The budget will be available for public inspection and comment for 20 days with planned adoption on Dec. 15.

To avoid raising taxes, the commissioners directed staff Nov. 10 to balance the budget by cutting $4 million from the “all requests” budget and by drawing on $2.5 million of the county’s 2011 budget surplus.

“Taxpayers don’t have the capacity for a tax increase right now. This budget lets us avoid a tax increase through a reasonable amount of deficit spending without jeopardizing our good fiscal position and AA bond rating,” said Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski.

The budget includes funding for a number of initiatives intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of county government, according to a county news release. Funding was included for improvements in information technology, including the continuation of the county’s Geographic Information Systems project, which will digitize and integrate the county’s land records systems.

“Making better use of technology will be critical to making county government more efficient and effective,” said Commissioner Bob Thomas.

New in the budget this year is the creation of two accounts that the county will use to set aside money for long term planning for significant expenditures related to equipment replacement, computer hardware and software upgrades and facilities-related needs. Also being set aside for facilities-related improvements in the “Capital Facility Fund” is $1 million, and $1.3 million is being set aside in a “Repair/Replacement Fund” mostly for equipment and information systems related needs.

“These funds will help the board plan long term instead of just looking at the county’s needs one year at a time,” said Chief Administrator John Hart.

The 2012 proposed budget is available on the Franklin County web site at www.co.franklin.pa.us and the Commissioners’ Office, 14 N. Main St., Chambersburg.