Commissioners give preview of 2019 budget considerations

An increase for the Lycoming County Library System, more radios and towers for the county Department of Public Safety and ways to increase and hold onto the local workforce all will be at the forefront of the Lycoming County commissioners’ minds during the 2019 budget planning season, Commissioner Tony Mussare said Tuesday morning.

County departments already have submitted their proposals, he said, before relaying what the commissioners are seeing thus far without releasing figures.

The county library system is seeking “a small increase,” and the commissioners have received a number of letters in support of the additional funding, Mussare said.

“We look at this as a type of prevention,” he said, referring to efforts to keep youth from turning to illegal activity. “It’s very utilized.”

In addition, the Department of Public Safety is in need of new radios, towers and other equipment.

“It’s a $7 million project through 2020, and it could go as high as $13 million,” Mussare said. “We have a lot of research to do. It’s for safety improvements in dead zones … There’s risk associated with not funding certain things.”

Another stand-out issue is workforce development, he said.

“The American Society for Training and Development predicts that a mere 46 million new workers are poised to replace the 77 million baby boomers who are expected to retire,” Mussare said. “That’s a huge difference. How do we meet those needs?

“These are all big decisions that will have to be made,” he said. “We look forward to the challenges coming this new budgetary year.”

In another matter, a 60-month lease in the amount of $12,500 for a like-new bunker and field rake from John Deere for the White Deer Golf Complex is up for consideration Thursday.

Billy Casper Golf will pay the installments of $2,750 annually, said Mya Toon, county chief procurement officer.

In order for Billy Casper to enter into a lease agreement, the manufacturer needed “credit information” for which the county is responsible, explained Commissioner Jack McKernan.

“The reason we’re doing it as a lease is in order to keep the cash flow low,” he said. “Since we made such a big investment into the bunkers last year, and all the other pieces of equipment that we have to maintain the bunkers have kind of died, they felt that we better get this so that we can protect our investment.”

Questions were raised as to whether the rake is new or pre-owned, to which Chief Clerk Matt McDermott clarified it “just came off a demo lease,” meaning it has few hours on it.

“It’s almost brand new,” he said. “And a brand new one costs $20,000. We’re getting a great deal.”

In other business, the commissioners will consider renewing a three-year professional service agreement not to exceed $56,000 with Schuylkill Mobile Fone for 111 pagers used primarily by public safety and courthouse staff, telecommunicators and others because they “get service where cellphones don’t,” said Leslie Kilpatrick, of information services.

Mussare asked for a report on how many staff members have both pagers and a county-provided cellphone, as well as data from Schuylkill on how often the pagers are used, which Kilpatrick said she can provide.

Also for consideration Thursday are an amendment to the professional service agreement with NMS Labs for the DUI Center, a $1.7 million grant agreement with the state Department of Human Services for STEP Inc.’s Medical Assistance Transportation Program, several personnel actions and more.

As an aside, Mussare offered a reminder that all assessment appeals for 2019 are due by 5 p.m. Sept. 1, or they will not be accepted.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito also was present. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in Executive Plaza.