County budgeting likely to get harder in future

The good news is that Lycoming County government has passed no-tax-hike budgets for 10 years in a row.

The tax-increase-free decade became official with passage of the 2014 budget recently.

But there are looming fiscal clouds.

The county continues to balance its budgets by drawing on surplus funding from previous years. The well will eventually run dry.

It’s not as if the county is sharply increasing its spending. The overall budget for 2014 increased by about a modest 1.86 percent.

The larger issue is decreasing state and federal funding for programs that have been mandated from the federal and state level.

With budget reduction being called for in both those larger governments, this is a problem that will worsen in the coming decade.

It will be incumbent on the leaders of county government to find new ways to fund county services by taking a hard look at every part of the Lycoming County government operation. Nothing should be assumed necessary without at least a cursory look at alternatives each year.

At the same time, our area lawmakers in Harrisburg and Washington need to protect local governments from having programs foisted on them without any clue of how they will be funded.

Budgeting at the county level is liable to get harder in the future.