BROOKVILLE — Tuesday the Jefferson County Commissioners adopted a preliminary $26,619,291 budget for 2018. The overall budget shows a $1,704,960 surplus in revenues over expenses but a $422,999 deficit in the general fund. The deficit in the general fund will be balanced by a transfer from the existing fund balance.

Commissioner Jack Matson said that the department heads and row officers were asked to justify their spending this year and to run their offices as “efficiently as possible.”

Matson said additional cost savings were realized through a change from land line telephone service to a Voice Over Internet phone system. The county also realized some savings in the group insurance plan.

Matson said the county auditors “were doing more with less” and District Judge Greg Bazylak was saving substantial money in postage by hand delivering documents.

“It was gratifying to see the expenses in the Register and Recorders Office decrease to match a reduction in revenue, “he said. The decline in revenue was the result in a decrease in Marcellus Shale activity.

Matson said there had been reductions in several departments including Juvenile Probation, the Election Board, Tax Claim and Tax Assessment, the District Attorney and the Emergency Management Agency.

Matson said that the expenses in the Sheriff’s Office had increased by 15% in the last two years but that the sheriff had agreed to work within his budget.

Matson said the county has not reached an agreement on a new contract with four labor unions. “That will definitely have an impact on the budget,” he said.

For only the second time in four years there will be no increase in real estate tax for county residents. In 2014 the county raised real estate millage by one-half mill. To balance the budget in 2017, the commissioners raised real estate taxes by one-quarter mill. The total real estate millage for 2018 will remain 12 mills. One mill of real estate tax equals $200,000.

“We are not done with the budget process yet,” said Matson.

The budget will be advertised and placed on public display. The final budget will be adopted at the Dec. 19 meeting of the commissioners. That will be held at 10:30 a.m. in Jefferson Place, Brookville.

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