Franklin County looks at slashing budget

March 19, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Freeze salaries. Eliminate two administrative positions. Don't distribute Christmas cards.

Elected officials on Thursday presented the Franklin County Commissioners with a list of ways to save money covering items big and small.

"We feel we have the best interests of our constituents in mind," Treasurer Dave Secor said.

The commissioners recently asked row officers and department heads to cut 8 percent from their budgets. Individual meetings this week have focused on how that could be accomplished, but about 15 elected leaders requested to make a group presentation Thursday afternoon.

Secor, who is running for re-election, was nominated as the group's spokesman. When asked by Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski whether the list had everyone's support, group members answered in the affirmative.


The commissioners thanked the group for its list and said the items will be considered. Many of the items, they said, were brought to light in the individual meetings as well.

Commissioner Bob Thomas expressed concerns that some of the changes could hurt the county in the long run. He highlighted the item that stated "review of Day Reporting (Center) -- cost to the county."

The Day Reporting Center provides various therapies and occupational services for criminal offenders.

"Some of these things the county does provide a legitimate service that wouldn't get done otherwise," Thomas said.

Some of the proposals came with potential savings spelled out, but many did not.

Secor said even if the commissioners found a couple of million dollars worth of cuts during individual meetings, the group's ideas have the potential to provide long-term savings for the county.

"There's some considerable savings there," Secor said, calling attention to proposals that would use county properties such as the old jail, jail annex and Rahauser building on the east side of the courthouse.

The commissioners adopted this year's $115.2 million budget on Dec. 11, 2008. Included was a 3.5-mill tax increase for property owners.

The commissioners have attributed the weakening economy to what they've called a proactive step in identifying cost savings. They've formed a task force to look at increasing efficiency.

Suggested County Budgetary Cost Savings

o Stop additional $1,000 pay to division leaders

o Freeze pay for all employees

o Terminate Day Reporting Center director position (paying for both a county director position and contracted director)

o Terminate assistant county administrator position, which has been vacant since October 2006

o Make all county solicitors contracted, rather than employees

o Do away with county-paid Christmas cards, picnics, employee recognition dinner, birthday cards and Christmas breakfast

o Stop employee tuition reimbursement program

o Restrict overtime hours as law and union contracts allow

o No county purchases for kitchen supplies

o Review shipping options

o Review Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center costs

o Review Day Reporting Center costs

o Review non-productive assets like the old jail, jail annex (old Sears building), and Rahauser building

o Move county departments for which rent and utilities are being paid

o Review all major contracts

o Review county cell phones

o Allow credit and debit card payments at magisterial district judge offices

o Look at vehicle fleet, including maintenance and insurance

o Consider joining consortiums to purchase health insurance and supplies

o No reimbursement for any in-county meals

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