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Requests for personnel top financial wish lists

November 17, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Requests for new personnel figured prominently in the first round of hearings Tuesday for Franklin County's 2005 budget.

Six of the nine department heads that presented budget proposals requested additional staff during the hearings before the Board of County Commissioners. Eight full-time and four part-time positions were requested, as well as upgrades and changes to other positions.

County property owners are likely to see a tax increase next year regardless of the budget requests. Earlier this year a $39 million bond issue was approved by the county to pay for a new prison, acquisition of development rights to prime farmland and a new public service radio system.

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County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said funding debt service on the bond issue could mean an increase of up to 2.7 mills in the real estate tax, which is 16.15 mills this year. One mill equals $1 on every $1,000 of assessed value on a property.

The cost of health-care insurance premiums for the county will go up 17 percent in 2005, according to Commissioner Cheryl Plummer. When negotiations started, Capital Blue Cross was asking for a 54 percent increase, she said.

Among the personnel requests, Sheriff Robert Wollyung asked for three full-time deputies, as well as two part-time guards to run a metal detector in the old courthouse. His proposed budget also includes $60,000 for new vehicles.

"It has bugged me for years that we don't have coverage for that building," Wollyung said of the old courthouse. Visitors to the courthouse annex, the administrative annex and the Human Services Building already have to pass through metal detectors, he said.

Chief Probation Officer Richard Mertz requested two new officers, one for the electronic monitoring and house-arrest program and another at the prison. He also asked for $1,000 for a modular office at the prison.

Mertz also is asking the county to reclassify or upgrade pay scales for six supervisors, four clerks and an accounts manager. He proposed that supervisors receive a weekly stipend of $150 because they are on call at all times. That would cost an additional $46,800 a year, he said.

Mertz said he also wants an attorney hired on a contract basis to address probation department legal issues.

District Attorney John F. Nelson requested additional compensation for assistant district attorneys due to their on-call status. He also wants a part-time detective position upgraded to full time, with half of the person's duties devoted to collecting restitution information from victims.

Treasurer Chris Bender requested an employee to manage the database for the approximately 50,000 dog, hunting, small games of chance and other licenses his office issues each year.

Court Administrator William Sheaffer asked for another employee in his office and that the position of divorce master be changed from a contract to a county employee. He also asked that a vacant district justice secretarial position be filled by someone who could act as a "floater," assisting at the seven magistrate offices and at central court on Tuesdays.

The next round of budget requests will be Thursday.

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