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Franklin Co. personnel to feel budget cuts

March 31, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners plan to cut 8 percent from their 2009 operating budget Thursday, and they acknowledged Tuesday there will be direct effects felt by some of the 950 county employees.

"Personnel will certainly be impacted," Commissioner David Keller said.

He would not answer questions about layoffs or furloughs, saying that information will be released Thursday. The budget adjustments are scheduled to occur at 10:30 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room near the courthouse.

The commissioners have been wrapping up meetings with elected officials and other department managers, all of whom were asked in February to identify 8 percent worth of cuts from their budgets. That request, the commissioners said, was made because of the slumping economy and reduced state funding.

On Tuesday afternoon, the board met with Court Administrator Neil Burkholder and Judge Douglas Herman.

The county courts system created savings as big as ending a car lease and as minor as printing on used paper.

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Herman said he doesn't believe any of the changes will affect public safety or court operations, but he added that the commissioners will be contacted for restored funding if either starts to be compromised.

Keller, who oversees a task force that's evaluating spending and operations, said cuts in the $115.2 million budget will affect a number of areas, including equipment, supplies, personnel and vendor contracts.

"The county depends on a lot of outside vendors for a lot of services," Commissioner Bob Thomas said, saying those vendors recently presented several cost-saving proposals.

The 2009 county budget included a 3.5-mill tax increase for property owners. A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value on a property.

On March 19, about a dozen elected officials presented the commissioners with a unanimously agreed-upon list of potential cuts. Those included freezing salaries, eliminating employee picnics and the recognition dinner, and restricting overtime hours as allowed by law and union contracts.

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