County to help library

LEWISTOWN – Even after closing two branch locations earlier this year, the financially struggling Mifflin County Library is projecting a 2013 budget deficit of just less than $16,000.

On Wednesday, Mifflin County came to the rescue.

During their weekly business meeting, the Mifflin County Commissioners unanimously voted to dip into the county’s general fund and appropriated $16,000 to the library in an effort to continue the services the facility provides.

“Due to declining state support over the years, our Mifflin County Library is faced with quite challenging financial times,” Commissioner Kevin Kodish read from a statement following the vote. “Recently, two of the library’s four branch locations had to close due to funding shortfalls. By action today, we are appropriating $16,000 in additional (funding) to the library. In addition, we encourage area residents to support the library in its current fundraising campaign. Our Mifflin County Library has been responsible for starting many children on a lifetime love affair with reading and learning, and we need to see that our library continues its great work.”

Kodish noted that libraries are vital because they offer programs that support early literacy, workforce readiness and small businesses.

“A strong investment in public libraries not only benefits individuals, but also strengthens the entire community,” Kodish said. “Libraries are highly regarded public institutions that provide a broad range of services and support for all people, and they help to level the playing field in a world that is being shaped by technology and people’s access to computers.”

Dr. Molly Kinney, the library’s executive director, was on hand at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I want to thank the county for the additional support,” Kinney said. “You are well aware of what we’ve had to do this year with regard to expenses. We continue to look forward to a great relationship with you at the Mifflin County Library.”

In other business Wednesday, the commissioners authorized creating the position of director of fiscal affairs with the hiring of Kathy Bobeck. Kodish said this position has been created as a result of various cost-saving measures and Bobeck will be available to provide assistance to a number of departments within the courthouse.

“The restructuring in the commissioners’ office will enable us to be more efficient and effective,” Kodish said. “Our grant management program stands to improve greatly and we will be able to provide valuable assistance to the Veteran’s Affairs office, as well as to other offices at times of critical need. This move comes on the heels of some direct cost-saving measures over the past year and we anticipate an overall improvement in communications and performance.”

In other business, the commissioners:

Approved an engineering services agreement between the borough of Juniata Terrace, Uni-Tee Consulting Engineers and the county for the borough’s sliplining project, to be funded through Community Development Block Grant monies.

Approved of the annual state food purchase program contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for funding of local food pantries.

Approved a three-year prison re-entry initiative grant in the amount of $33,237.

Approved 2013 Liquid Fuels allocations for the following municipalities: Derry Township, $17,857.49; Decatur Township, $10,379.70; and McVeytown Borough, $1,000.

Approved the following purchase of service agreements for use, if needed, by Children & Youth, with the following: Clear Concepts Counseling, Lewistown; Aaron Gingrich, Esquire, Lewistown; and Attorney Michael Kipphan, Huntingdon.

Approved an agreement with Direct Energy to provide electricity for county-owned buildings for a three-year contract at a rate of $0.06657 per kilowatt hour. Commissioner Mark Sunderland said the adjusted rate represents a savings to the county of $20,376 per year through 2016.

Approved the 2012 Hazardous Materials Response Preparedness Report, which summarized local emergency preparedness committee activities for the year 2012.

Approved an agreement with CGI Communications Inc. to update videos on the county’s website at no cost to the county.

Approved a request for exoneration of 2013 real estate tax bill for the new Mann Edge senior housing project in the amount of $12,833.55 after the parcel’s tax rate was reduced by the county board of appeals. County Solicitor Patti Gardner explained that a professional appraiser reduced the property value of the site which necessitated a reduction in the tax rate.

Approved the hiring of Michael Moyle as a part-time deputy sheriff effective June 24.

Approved the hiring of James Smith as a part-time deputy sheriff effective June 24.

Approved the hiring of Brittany Searer as a part-time corrections officer effective June 30.

Approved the hiring of Joseph Ciccolini as a part-time corrections officer effective July 7.