LEWISTOWN - Without comment, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday voted by a 2-1 margin to adopt the county's 2013 general fund budget that calls for a 1.63 mill tax increase. Voting in favor of the budget, which totals $24,628,349, were Commissioners Otis Riden and Kevin Kodish. Commissioner Mark Sunderland voted against the spending plan.
This is the first county budget that has included a tax increase in six years, according to information released Dec. 6, the day the budget was unveiled for public inspection. During that session, Kodish pointed out the current millage rate had been effect for six consecutive years with the last increase coming in 2007 at 0.1 mills. Kodish said for a property owner with an assessed value of $50,000, the tax hike would amount to an increase of $81.50 per year, or $6.80 a month.
"We are facing uncertain future funding on both the state and federal levels," Kodish said Dec. 6 "Federal and state governments have sought to balance their budgets in part by cutting support to counties. With inflation, the buying power of the same tax dollars declines.
"With this year's increase," he continued, "our goal is to have no further increases for at least the next two budget years."
In other business, in an attempt to reduce expenditures even further, the commissioners voted unanimously to eliminate the two jury commissioner positions, which Sunderland said should save the county approximately $14,000 a year when benefits are added.
Sunderland said the decision was made after the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (C-CAP) issued an initiative encouraging counties to eliminate the positions statewide.
"C-CAP decided it (the jury commissioner position) has become obsolete," Sunderland said.
"Over a four-year period (the length of jury commissioner terms), we should see savings of around $50,000," Riden added.
In other business Thursday, the commissioners:
Approved a purchase of service agreement with the law offices of Michael S. Gingerich of Lewistown as court-appointed counsel for custodial parents in child welfare cases at a cost of $24,000 for 12 months.
Approved a purchase of service agreement with the law offices of Nancy Searer of Lewistown for non-custodial parents in child welfare cases at a cost of $10,000 for 12 months.
Approved a purchase of service agreement between the county and Daryl Treaster to provide cleaning services at the office of Magisterial District Judge 58-3-03 at a cost of $180 per month.
Approved the distribution of 2012 Community Service Block Grant funds to the following: United Way of Mifflin-Juniata, $4,472 to provide a facilitator; Shelter Services Inc., $13,870 for mass shelter services; Shelter Services Inc., $10,000 for rent and utilities; Shelter Services Inc., $4,408 for intake shelter services; Mifflin-Juniata Human Services Department, $2,390 for a special project coordinator; and Mifflin-Juniata Human Services Department, $3,904 for administration.
Approved the following appointments/reappointments to three-year terms on the Mifflin County Library Board: Stephen Dunkle, of Allensville; Sandra Dedmon, of McClure; and Judy Tunall, of Lewistown.
Approved the application for 2012 liquid fuels allocations from Menno Township ($5,688.12) and Burnham Borough ($4,260).
Accepted the Mifflin-Juniata County Criminal Justice Advisory Board Coordinator Grant in the amount of $6,386.
Renewed the lease on Jack's Mountain for the county's emergency dispatch center tower on the ridge above Reedsville. Public Safety Director Phil Lucas said the lease runs "roughly $500 a month."
Reappointed Sunderland as board chairman, Riden as board co-chairman, and Kodish as board secretary for 2013.