Elk County’s proposed 2019 budget will not include an accompanying tax increase.
The proposal does include an increase in the general fund of approximately $1 million, from $12,644,155 in 2018 to $13,578,873.78, but the amount is expected to be covered by other revenues. The amount represents a year-to-year difference of $934,718.78.
“Following a trend of the previous year, the 2019 budget will again not include any increases in the taxable millage currently assessed,” a statement from county commissioners said. “In addition, the county will continue full operational capacity within all departments and vital services.”
In total, the budget encompasses general and other fund revenues and expenses totaling $17,962,619, as compared to $17,793,436 in 2018. An increase in totals of $169,183.
The 2019 budget also accounts for an Elk County Retirement Fund valuation of $22,422,841.
In total, the proposal accounts for fund values of $40,385,460 combined.
The proposed budget includes wage increases for employees.
Employees governed by collective bargaining agreements would receive a 2.5 percent wage increase, per those agreements, and those not under such contracts would receive a matching increase. Elected officials would receive a 2 percent increase.
The commissioners statement cited some areas driving county costs, most prominently the Elk County Prison.
The Elk County Prison continues to be the county’s largest expenditure, with an ever-increasing inmate population,” it reads. “It is a 24-hour-a-day operation with a large staff necessary to provide mandated medical care and prescriptions, food service, maintenance and security as well as the supervision of inmates.
“Similarly other departments that deal with court related matters, such as the sheriff’s office or parole and probation; or those addressing family or social dysfunction, such as children and youth or domestic relations, continually drive higher expenditures that are assumed by the taxpayer.”
Other factors cited include two upcoming capital murder trials, addressing the opioid epidemic and providing an estimated $632,000 for state mandated replacement of voting equipment.
The proposed budget is available for public review at the commissioner’s office in the Elk County Courthouse Annex or the county website, www.co.elk.pa.us, beginning today.
A special meeting of the county board of commissioners for budget approval is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 27.