County’s yearly plan 10th in row without tax hike

Lycoming County commissioners unanimously approved a $98.9 million no-tax hike budget for 2014 at a meeting Thursday.

The 4.75 millage rate on real estate has remained at that figure for the past 10 years, according to county officials.

County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland said passing budgets is becoming increasingly challenging given the decreases in state and federal funds of recent years.

Local governments are mandated from the state and federal levels to provide programs, only to see their dollars for those services either eliminated or decreased.

“It is becoming extremely difficult for us to maintain operations,” he said.

Commissioners had given approval to a preliminary budget in November and it had been on public display for the required 20 days.

Since that time, nearly $90,000 was added to the spending plan to hire a deputy sheriff and for capital projects.

Overall, the budget is to increase by about 1.86 percent over this year, according to county Fiscal Services Director Beth Johnston.

The county is expected to receive about $4.3 million in state Act 13 impact fee funding.

However, funding through county pass-through grants will decrease by $1.8 million.

In other matters, commissioners approved a $20,500 traffic impact study with Larson Design Group.

The study involves traffic patterns and volumes along the Route 15 corridor from the county landfill to Route 54.

A professional services contract with Delta Development Group, of Mechanicsburg, not to exceed $251,100 was renewed.

Commissioners voted in favor of a $350,000 contract for the Brodart Neighborhood Improvement program.

It includes $300,000 to STEP Inc. for housing rehabilitation and another $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity for repairs and improvements.

Commissioners also approved $50,000 to the city of Williamsport for planning transit needs.

Also at the meeting, commissioners approved:

$17,921 to be paid to Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. for repair work to a tractor.

A professional service agreement with McClure Co. for repair work to an air conditioner.

A cooperative agreement for data sharing with the Bureau of Historic Preservation. The contract supports the county’s historic planning preservation process for sharing geographic information systems.