KITTANNING – Armstrong County commissioners said last week they aren’t prepared to play Santa Claus and grant every county department its wish list as work begins to balance a 2018 budget that now shows a $1.3 million deficit.

“This is everybody’s Christmas list and wishes,” commissioner Pat Fabian said of the preliminary budget, which was approved Nov. 2. He explained that the early budget includes everything that county elected officials and department heads would like to have in the new year, but work will be done to bring it in line before its formal adoption on Dec. 21.

“What you have today is what we have been presented with,” commissioner Jason Renshaw explained, noting that the county will not look at each request and make decisions on what is needed and what can be cut. “We’ll get that down and work within our means.”

The preliminary budget projects revenues of $20,427,558 in the new year, down $725,000 from 2017. It also shows expenses of $21,730,036, an increase of $576,000 over the current year.

If it were to remain as initially presented, officials said a 1.3 mill tax increase would be needed to offset the costs. However, officials feel it won’t come to that.

Fabian said the next step will be to encourage department heads to review the budget to determine where costs can be reduced.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure we’re getting the best value for your tax dollars,” Fabian told residents in the audience at last week’s meeting who were calling on the commissioners not to raise taxes. “We’re going to continue to digest it ourselves.”

Fabian also noted that residents who have a complaint about their property taxes should realize that 70 percent of that bill goes to their school district, with the county collecting about 20 percent and the borough or township collecting 10 percent.

Other Business

• The commissioners approved granting $2,051 from the county’s Marcellus Legacy allocation to help pay for a fire hydrant project at the Dayton Fairgrounds.

The total project is expected to cost $8,206, with the cost divided between the county, Dayton Borough, Wayne Township and the Dayton A&M Association.

• No action was taken on a motion to award a bid of $31,027 to Holbein Inc. of Sarver for the proposed demolition of the county planning building, located across a parking lot from the courthouse annex. Bids for the demolition were opened Oct. 6, and officials noted the county has 90 days to make a decision on the matter.

• The commissioners proclaimed Nov. 28 as Giving Tuesday on behalf of Quality Life Services Sugar Creek’s Don’t Stop Dreaming’ program. They also proclaimed Nov. 18 as Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, and issued a proclamation in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

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