Clarion County will have budget surplus

For the fourth straight year, Clarion County will finish in the black.

Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan said Wednesday during the board of commissioners meeting that this year the budget surplus should be between $500,000 and $600,000.

The county’s 2019 budget expenditures were $18,340,152, which was an increase of about $1.3 million from 2018. The 2017 budget was $14.5 million. There was no increase in real estate taxes during that period.

The savings will roll over into the general fund, which has a balance of over $5 million.

“We didn’t spend everything we had in the budget for capital improvements,” Tharan said.

The county, he said, had budgeted $500,000 and spent $200,000.

“That will change with the purchase of the new district attorney’s office,” Tharan said.

The county is spending $150,000 to purchase a former medical office in the borough that will house the DA’s office. Tharan said that deal should close before the end of the year.

“The savings came from several different line items,” he said. “I can’t say it was every department. Some were way over and some were under budget.”

Commissioner Ed Heasley said there were some savings in personnel.

“Sometimes when an employee leaves and we have to replace that person, it can take some time to the find the right candidate; so we save a little on payroll then – $10,000 here and $10,000 there add up,” Heasley said.

And, Tharan said, “If you have 10 people throughout the year that could be $100,000.”

Commissioner Wayne Brosius said the prison budget also has been below budget.

Tharan said one cost-saving measure was to put the attorneys on contract.

One cost the county will incur is the purchase of new voting machines. The board of commissioners is usually the election board but, as the commissioners were candidates this year, a new election board was selected to oversee the election. That delayed the selection of new voting machines.

That fact and the uncertainty surrounding some new voting systems caused concern among the commissioners. Those concerns appear to have been resolved.

“We may make that decision before the end of the year,” Tharan said.

The county’s health care projections, Tharan said, are projected to increase by 8.25 percent in 2020.

“In the last four years, the increase has been anywhere from 8 to 10 percent,” he said.

Tharan said no tax increase is projected in the 2020 budget, which the commissioners will introduce at their meeting Tuesday.