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Franklin Co. budget includes tax increase

December 31, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Back in April, Franklin County's three commissioners knew they had to make some serious budget cuts if they were to balance their budget for the 2010 calendar year. The law mandates a balanced budget.

Commissioners President Bob Thomas and Commissioners David Keller and Bob Ziobrowski voted unanimously Thursday to adopt a $111 million budget for the year beginning Friday -- $4 million less than the budget year that ended Thursday.

Despite that, taxpayers will see a slight increase in their tax bills, to about $8.70 per year for an average-priced Franklin County home with a fair market value of $150,000. That increase will raise the county's mill rate for debt service from 2.1 mills to 2.6 mills.

The tax rate for operations will stay the same, at 22.55 mills, as will the library tax rate of 0.80 mills for the participating municipalities.

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A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

"We made significant budget cuts in April," Thomas said.

According to Keller, the commissioners eliminated 20 local government positions. Included were 13 that were vacant and left unfilled and seven that were held by county employees who lost their jobs.

The next big cut came by reducing the hours of many of the employees who still had jobs. More job cuts loom in the future, the commissioners have said.

They also plan to save money next year by renegotiating vendor contracts, Thomas said.

The commissioners, in prepared remarks following Thursday's vote, said, "Despite significant increases in county obligations for emergency services, health care insurance, premiums, post-retirement health care fund and the county pension fund, overall spending has declined for the second consecutive year."

The new budget can be viewed on the county's Web site at www.co.franklin.pa.us.

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