Clarion County budget approved; no tax hike

Clarion County commissioners on Thursday adopted an amended and final county budget for 2020 that doesn’t call for a tax increase.

Rose Logue, the interim acting fiscal director the county, said the $20,057,060 spending plan includes several items that were added to the budget after the preliminary plan was approved.

Logue said changes in the contract for sheriff’s department employees added about $10,310. Changes in the public defender’s office added an additional $13,500, and improvements to the Penn State Extension office cost another $3,000.

The county also entered into an agreement with Delta Development, a grant writing and consulting firm from the Harrisburg area that will cost the county $30,000 next year.

The budget also increased unrestricted funding from $350,000 to $400,000 and reduced the contingency reserve for the balance.

There was no tax increase in the budget. Real estate taxes will remain at 22 mills for the fourth straight year.

Logue said the tentative budget includes three pass-through grants totaling $4,748,000. Those grants include the YMCA RACP, ($215,500), Clarion Healthcare RACP ($1 million) and Brady Tunnel ($3,543,000).

When the preliminary budget was revealed in November, Logue said there were a number of factors that had an impact on the budget including health insurance premiums, the Children and Youth Services (CYS) match and employee wage increases. Those changes added $122,000 to the budget.

The revenue for 2020 is expected to increase by $116,047 stemming from an increase of the assessed value and tax claim revenue.

That left a shortfall of $431,392 in the 2020 budget. Logue said the balance would be taken from the unrestricted fund balance.

She said earlier the 2020 budget still has more than $118,000 in contingency funding for “prudent” fiscal management.

Logue said the 2019 budget is expected to produce a surplus of about $400,000, which will increase the general fund balance.

Logue said earlier there were several factors contributing to the surplus, including the fact the contingency reserve hasn’t been utilized to this point, the county’s contribution to the county retirement account was lower, and there were savings throughout all the budgeted items.

The budget will be posted on the county’s website.