Mifflin County budget passes with no tax, millage rate increase

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously passed the county’s 2014 budget that features no tax increase and the millage rate remaining at 14.250.

The $23,662,781 spending plan is actually $965,000 less than the 2013 budget because, according to Chairman Mark Sunderland, the county will be receiving less grant money in the coming year.

“I feel this is a very good budget,” Sunderland commented prior to the vote to approve. “This is 3.2 percent less than last year due to less grant funding. Everybody worked very hard on this budget. I’d like to thank all the department heads for all their work on it.”

The commissioners said holding the line on taxes was an important achievement.

“For the seventh time in eight years there is no increase in county taxes for our citizens,” Commissioner Kevin Kodish said. “We will continue our efforts to improve overall efficiency, and to provide the services our residents deserve.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners adopted a proclamation designating December as “United Way Month” and complimented the efforts of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata in the process.

“The United Way of Mifflin-Juniata has been involved in meeting the needs of the people living in the Juniata Valley for over 75 years,” Sunderland read from the proclamation. “The United Way’s mission is to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community, and is best exemplified through its ability to bring people together to solve difficult problems. We encourage our residents and employees to continue their support in this United Way fundraising campaign to raise $600,000 to benefit children, seniors and families throughout 2014.

“We express our appreciation to the many volunteers on the Boards of Directors of the United Way and its partner agencies for their generous contributions of time and energy to these agencies which seek to enrich the lives of people of this great county and do hereby proclaim and urge all citizens to recognize and support these efforts and services.”

On hand to accept the proclamation was Marie Mulvihill, executive director of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata, who thanked the commissioners for their support of the agency’s mission.

Following passage of the proclamation, Commissioner Otis Riden commended Mulvihill for the work she does.

“You’re a big part of the United Way,” Riden said. “Your energy and enthusiasm for the job needs to be mentioned today.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

Passed a resolution approving the issuance by the Mifflin County Hospital Authority of a $6 million tax-exempt note for an expansion project at Valley View Haven and authorizing the chairman to give written approval for the tax-exempt financing.

Approved a Community Development Block Grant competitive grant preparation and administration agreement between the county, Derry Township and the Municipal Authority of Lewistown Borough. If successful, the $416,438 grant would help fund a water line extension project along U.S. 522, including 8,000 linear feet of water line and five fire hydrants.

Approved a purchase of service agreement for use, if needed, by Children & Youth with Cornell Abraxas Group Inc. of Pittsburgh.

Reappointed of Jim Shilling of Lewistown to another one-year term on the SEDA-Council of Governments Board of Directors.

Approved an amendment to the tower lease agreement between the county and AT&T Wireless for increased use of space at the tower.

Reappointed David Pennebaker of Belleville and Thomas Lake of Lewistown to four-year terms on the Mifflin County Planning Commission.

Approved the retirement of Brenda Fye as a corrections officer effective Dec. 28.

Approved the promotion of Zachary Houser from part-time to full-time corrections officer effective Dec. 29.

Voted to retain Sunderland as chairman, Riden as vice-chairman and Kodish as secretary of the board for 2014.