Proposed budget won’t raise taxes

LEWISTOWN – After raising taxes last year, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday announced they are putting on display a proposed 2014 spending plan that will hold the line for local taxpayers.

The commissioners approved a measure to put the 2014 budget, in the amount of $23,662,781, on display beginning Friday with final adoption scheduled for Dec. 5.

Commissioner Mark Sunderland said next year’s tentative budget does not include a tax increase. The budget for the current fiscal year is $24,628,349. No other details on the budget were discussed Thursday, however, Sunderland said additional comments would come upon final adoption.

In other business, the commissioners approved a proposal from the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority to purchase 19.5 acres near Standard Steel for future development. The land was sold for $66,000, the amount required to pay back taxes and liens against the property, according to Jeff Stover, the authority’s executive director, who was on hand at Thursday’s meeting.

According to information provided by the authority, the property is divided between Burnham Borough and Derry Township, adjacent to Standard Steel. It was once used by the Standard and referred to as the “North Yards.” Railroad track runs along one border of the property.

Stover said the property will be served by the Juniata Valley Railroad, one of six short-line railroads in the authority’s system.

In commenting on the sale, Stover said, “There is potential here for rail-served industrial development. This is one of many projects the authority has undertaken to expand rail infrastructure in central Pennsylvania.”

Although specific plans have not been finalized, Stover said some yard tracks and a wye may be installed. Stover noted a wye track provides a safe way for a railroad to turn locomotives and freight cars, both of which are needed as part of railroad operations.

In other business Thursday, the commissioners approved three proclamations, the first of which honored local boy scout Austin Hess for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. According to the proclamation, Hess’s project involved moving the Mifflin County Garden Club’s Master Garden from its existing location to the Mifflin County Library.

The second proclamation designated the month of November as “National Adoption Month,” which is in support of Mifflin County Children & Youth’s mission to “work cooperatively with families to ensure all children have a safe and stable environment in which to live, grow and succeed.” The proclamation notes that since 2000, a total of 98 foster care adoptions have occurred in the county and it is anticipated another six will happen in the upcoming year.

“The community needs to be aware of the unique needs of children, as well as the commitment and contribution of adoptive parents,” the proclamation said. On hand to accept the proclamation was Mackenzie Seiler, administrator of Mifflin County Children & Youth.

The third proclamation recognizes November as “Record Your Veteran’s Discharge” month, which noted that veterans are entitled and encouraged to record their discharge certificates or any other certification of discharge at the office of the Mifflin County Recorder of Deeds. Register and Recorder Barbara A. Stringer was on hand and noted discharge papers are proof of military service and can be used to establish eligibility for a variety of benefits including employment, retirement, civil service, financial aid and property tax exemption programs. Stringer said the process of recording discharge papers is done at her office in the Mifflin County Courthouse free of charge.

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

Approved a specialized behavioral health training grant agreement for the period Sept. 1, 2013 to Aug. 31, 2015 in the amount of $75,000. If successful the grant would go toward training law enforcement to successfully identify mental health based problems with prisoners at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility. The training will also give officers options other than arrest and incarceration when they encounter individuals with mental illness.

Approved an open end mortgage and security agreement between the county and Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation in the amount of $50,000 to support the ongoing renovation project at the former Kardex building in the Mifflin County Industrial Plaza.

Approved a request from Wayne Township for its 2013 Liquid Fuels allocation in the amount of $10,131.07.

Approved the 2013 Homeland Security Grant Agreement for the period Sept. 1, 2013 through Aug. 31, 2015 in the amount of $419.674. The money is used for first responders in Mifflin and seven surrounding counties, according to Public Safety Director Phil Lucas.

Approved additions to the Drug/Alcohol Restrictive Intermediate Punishment Grant in the amount of $1,177, and the Mifflin County Intermediate Punishment Grant in the amount of $6,331.

Approved agreements to provide planning services to Derry Township and Lewistown Borough for 2014.

Approved the promotion of Rebecca Ganoe to assistant director of Tax Claim/Voter Registration and Elections effective Oct. 20.

Hired Jane Smith as a temporary victim/witness aide effective Oct. 21.

Hired Kristin Matula as a county caseworker in the Children & Youth Department effective Nov. 18.