Commissioners discuss current fiscal deficit in Juniata County budget

MIFFLINTOWN – Discussion over budget deficits dominated a Tuesday meeting of the Juniata County Commissioners.

A motion on the meeting agenda recommended that the board authorize the treasurer’s office to approve and pay invoices exceeding the department’s budget through the remainder of the fiscal year. Further, the treasurer should place a “stop payment” on any over-budgeted invoices deemed inappropriate for further review by the board.

“How does the treasurer have the authority to do that?” asked Commissioner Teresa O’Neal.

O’Neal said the county invested in Unifund, a financial software program, to oversee department transactions. She said the software is programmed to accept or deny payments based on the county’s budget policy, not personal interpretation.

“Any time a department goes over budget, there has to be public discussion,” she said. “We are required by law to adopt a balanced budget.”

O’Neal added that it’s poor policy and lack of fiscal responsibility to grant financial oversight to department heads.

“We have a responsibility to our taxpayers,” she said.

Commissioner Robert Reynolds said the payments in question are “minor issues,” including minimal postage and mailing costs.

“There are things that cannot be budgeted to the penny,” he said, adding that the county’s budget is a planning document.

He said, if approved, the policy would allow small expenditures to be handled under the treasurer’s judgment.

Chief Clerk Jim Bahorik said the same process was used last year when the department went over budget.

The motion was approved as commissioners Jeffrey Zimmerman and Reynolds voted in favor of the motion; O’Neal voted in opposition.

In other new business, the board:

Reviewed the following October 2013 monthly reports: Summary of Collections Report – Fines and Costs, submitted by Barbara M. Lyter, magisterial district judge; Change in Assessment Report, submitted by Jeff Haines, chief assessor; Juniata County Adult and Juvenile Probation Department, prepared by Michelle A. Beaver, chief probation officer; Juniata County Children and Youth Statistical Report, submitted by Penni Abram, children and youth director; and the Juniata County Treasurer’s report, submitted by Sandra F. King, treasurer.

Approved a request for liquid fuel funds for Tuscarora Township in the amount of $2,873.49.

Ratified the Juniata County Hazardous Materials check No. 1,176 in the amount of $3.80 to L/B Water Service Inc. for foam trailer parts.

Ratified CDBG-IDIS check No. 1,179 in the amount of $21,705 to SEDA-Council of Governments for administration costs, submitted by the Juniata County Planning Department.

Approved the Purchase of Service Agreement and the child-specific contract extension between Juniata County Children and Youth Services, the Juniata County Probation Department and White Deer Run Inc. submitted by Robyn Ventresca, children and youth fiscal assistant. The agreement and extension are valid through June 30.

Approved the Purchase of Service Agreement and the child-specific contract extension between children and youth services, the probation department and Diversified Treatment Alternatives, submitted by Ventresca. The agreement and extension are valid through June 30.

Approved checks Nos. 38,764 through 38,819 in the amount of $93,697.46.

The Juniata County Commissioners regularly meet each at 10 a.m. each Tuesday in the Bousum Building in Mifflintown.