KITTANNING – Armstrong County will dip into its reserves to balance its 2020 budget without the need for a property tax increase.

“We’re looking at no property tax increases for the fourth year in a row,” said Aaron Poole, the county’s chief administrator who unveiled the preliminary budget plan at the Nov. 21 meeting of the county commissioners.

Poole said that the total tax millage will remain at 19 mills, with the real estate millage set at 14.8 mills and the debt millage at 4.2 mills.

The preliminary budget shows expenses ($24,665,219) outpacing revenues ($22,557,414), and the need to draw $2,107,805 from the county’s reserves to balance the plan.

Officials noted that the commissioners and county departments will continue to work over the next several weeks to trim the budget deficit prior to the budget’s formal adoption on Dec. 19.

“We will continue to examine accounts and fine tune the budget in the coming weeks,” Poole said.

Commissioners Pat Fabian, Jason Renshaw and George Skamai voted to move forward with the preliminary budget.

Fabian said that despite increases in health insurance costs for employees, the county would continue to pay 90 percent of employee health insurance, which amounts to about a $400,000 increase in the new year.

“We believe in that — taking care of them,” Fabian said of providing health insurance for employees.

The commissioners also noted that the budget includes cost of living pay increases for non-union county employees, as well as pay increases for union employees as per their contracts.

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The general fund budget shows that the Judicial and Corrections budgets account for about half of all county expenses. Administration is the third largest area, accounting for about 19 percent of the budget.

Fifty-nine percent of the county’s revenues come from taxes, with other revenues such as grants accounting for 32 percent, and the county’s reserves coming in at 9 percent.

Other Business

• The commissioners proclaimed Saturday, Nov. 30, as Small Business Saturday and encouraged residents to shop at small businesses within the county.

• An agreement between the county and Billman Geologic Consultants was approved for the valuation of oil, gas and mineral rights at the county-owned Armsdale property in Rayburn Township. The work is expected to cost $2,250 to $3,000.

• The cost of engineering work for the courthouse parking lot restoration project was increased by $17,000. The total contract with Senate Engineering was raised to $42,040.

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