Amended Clarion County budget gets final approval

Clarion County commissioners on Tuesday gave final approval to an amended 2021 budget for the county.

The spending plan, which now totals $18,923,464 and doesn’t call for a tax increase, was increased by $53,000 over the preliminary budget.

Commissioner Ted Heasley said the $53,000 hike was offset by $53,000 in expenditures, so it is still a balanced budget. He said the revenue hike was a result of additional tax claims.

The extra income will be applied to several departments, county budget director Rose Logue said.

Logue added the ending balance in the 2020 budget will be about $6 million.

County treasurer Karyn Montana said she learned just prior to Tuesday’s meeting that the hours of her part-time clerk had been reduced.

“I am not happy that I was told 10 minutes before this meeting that my budget was changed and I was not notified,” Montana said.

Tax rates for 2021 will remain at 20.5 mills for real estate and 1.5 mills for debt service. The hotel tax rate will stay at 3 percent.

One mill of real estate tax is equal to $418,000.

Logue said the adoption of the new federal CARES Act wouldn’t require the county to re-open the budget.

“What we got from the CARES act this summer was unexpected,” Logue said. “We just did a resolution and added it to the budget. This year we actually did two resolutions – one for the CARES Act and one for the multimodal money.”

Tower contract awarded

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners awarded a contract for the construction of three communications towers to Tower Services Unlimited of Harrisburg. The winning bid was $775,835.

The bid was for the construction of a 150-foot monopole at East Brady, a 118-foot self-supporting tower at Shippenville and a 250-foot self-supporting tower at Cottage Hill (New Bethlehem).

Commissioner Wayne Brosius said the contract includes pads for shelters, propane tanks, generators, shelter provisioning and grounding.

The county will purchase the communications equipment for the towers and the buildings to house the equipment.

Commissioners also approved a bid from Tower Services Unlimited for a pre-fabricated building at the Carriage Hill tower location at a cost of $44,050. The shelter will be 12 by 20 feet and 10 feet high.

Construction is to be completed within 90 days, according to the contract. The work is being funded with CARES act money.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on another part of the county’s effort to revamp the 9-1-1 emergency call system.

County crews have been working on the 50,000 square foot former Sorce warehouse near Shippenville, and part of the building will be used for a new 9-1-1 emergency center.

The county purchased the building from the Wein Brothers Building Account for $670,000.

The county also purchased two parcels of ground adjacent to the Sorce building for $40,000 each. The land involved in the purchase totaled 3.4 acres.

One of the new towers will be erected at that location.

Commissioners announced the retirement of county auditor Sue Leonard effective Dec. 31. A successor will be named from a pool of applicants.

The commissioners will hold a re-organizational meeting at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4.