Local outreach meetings set for budget review

The Lycoming County commissioners have announced public outreach meeting dates at which community members can learn about the proposed 2018 county budget and ask questions about or provide insight regarding the proposal.

These meetings will be held at the following locations from 6 to 7:30 p.m.:

• Monday in the commissioners board room in the Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St..

• Oct. 30 at the Hughesville Public Library, 146 S. Fifth St., Hughesville.

• Nov. 9 at the Jersey Shore Library, 110 Oliver St., Jersey Shore.

Matt McDermott, director of administration for the county, said this budget process is unusual because, prior to this year, everything was included in a one-year operational budget. Now, though, the county is working on a three-year operational budget, in combination with a five-year capital budget.

“If we’re going to look at strategic priorities from a county perspective, we need to have a longer range budget,” McDermott said.

Other challenges in the process thus far include ever-increasing operating costs, such as salaries and health care, as well as uncertainty about what the state and federal budgets will offer, he said.

“How do you balance those costs to provide services to the residents without increasing the burden on the taxpayers?” McDermott said. “Another challenge is there’s a lot of uncertainty from the federal and state budget perspective. We don’t have a guarantee of what federal and state revenues are going to come in.”

Despite those challenges, McDermott said “it’s too early to tell” if a tax increase will be necessary.

“We’re still working on all different kinds of options for each of the plans,” he said.

The budget proposal will be posted online at www.lyco.org on Nov. 16.

Additionally, physical copies of the proposal can be reviewed during the normal business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., holidays excluded, in the following locations:

• Office of the commissioners, the controller’s office and Fiscal Services Office in the Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.;

• The treasurer’s office, 33 W. Third St.; and

• The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Being made public on Nov. 16 doesn’t make the budget final, McDermott added. County residents will be able to view and digest the proposal and provide feedback to help commissioners potentially “bring about decisions to maybe do some things differently,” he said.

The budget is slated for adoption at the commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 in the commissioners board room in the Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St., pending public comment.

“Throughout outreach meetings and the public inspection period, if something comes up that doesn’t allow us to approve on Dec. 7, we’ll still have time,” McDermott it said. “We want to make it a goal to have it done by the 7th, but we have some flexibility.”