Commissioners on correct track with early budget focus

The Lycoming County Commissioners are starting their 2019 budget preparations early, which we like.

We also like a couple of the priorities that were shared with the public, namely an increase in funding to the Lycoming County Library System, plans for more radios and towers to reduce safety “dead zones” and funding for future workforce development.

Given the literacy issues in our county and the connection between idle, uneducated youth and illegal activity, the increased funding to the library system is a no-brainer.

It takes an innovative, forward-thinking library network to make the extra funding work, and the county’s system clearly meets that criteria.

The radio and communication tower project is costly – $7 million to $13 million – but the county’s large, rural layout brings challenges with it regarding safety. Without communications capability, we don’t have true public safety. The costs are concerning. And details should be studied to make sure of everything that is purchased. But this is probably a necessary investment.

With baby boomers retiring in droves, there will be a need for qualified work force replacements in numerous categories of local employment in the next decade. The county needs to have all employment training basics covered. If that training is not available, local people will go elsewhere for employment.

We need to see more about how the county intends to execute this work force training. But we understand the priority.

County departments already have submitted their cost proposals. So we will add another priority for the commissioners. If those proposals don’t add up to a no-tax-increase plan yet, they need to make that happen, too, in the coming months.

Most local taxpayers have been getting hit even harder than normal by a combination of municipal, county and school tax increases in recent years.

Not only are they due a break on the tax front, they are desperate for one.