Franklin County budget OK'd

property tax rate remains 25.15 mills

December 15, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners will hold the line on taxes in the final 2012 budget they passed Thursday.

The commissioners plan to spend about $42.8 million from their general fund, plus $1.8 million for renovations and expansions of the courthouse complex.

They'll set aside an additional $2.3 million divided between two new funds — one for future facilities projects and another used for replacing items like security equipment, vehicles, and computer hardware and software.

The property tax rate will remain 25.15 mills.

A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 assessed property value for taxpayers.

County Administrator John Hart and the three commissioners trimmed millions from an early draft of the 2012 budget that included requests from all departments. They plan to fill about 20 of the 40 full- and part-time employee positions being requested by department managers.

The commissioners turned down "a lot of worthy requests for additional personnel, reclassification of positions, equipment, hardware and software," said David Keller, chairman of the board. "We had to say 'no' to a lot of people to get the budget to where we want it to be."

"I think it's clear this has been a challenging year. ... The future isn't necessarily bright" for revenues, Commissioner Robert Thomas said.

The commissioners said they continue to look at ways to improve efficiency. They recently made changes to how they order paper for copiers, and now they're considering eliminating one of the county's human services agencies.

The commissioners would not name the affected human services agency on Thursday, but said they're exploring the possibility of converting it to a nonprofit organization. That organization would take over the county agency's duties, they said.

It would be run by its own board of directors and could be "streamlined" to better match the private sector, according to Hart.

"We do support them more than the mandated level to keep them operational," Hart said.

The commissioners also discussed Hart's position at their meeting Thursday. They directed their human resources director to compare the position's salary to neighboring counties and decided they underpay for the duties.

Hart has worked for the county since 1974 and became county administrator/chief clerk in 1987. He is paid $83,929 a year, an amount that is less than what Adams, Cumberland and Washington counties pay their administrators.

The commissioners said they want the new range for the position to be $93,000 to $145,000. Their salary board will determine Hart's adjusted pay rate early in the new year.

Hart said he has no immediate plans to retire.

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