Centre County commissioners adopt budget

BELLEFONTE — With just two business days left in the 2018 calendar year, the Centre County Commissioners unanimously adopted the 2019 county budget in a special meeting on Thursday morning.

Typically, the commissioners meet on Tuesday, but it was pushed to Thursday this week due to the Christmas holiday.

The budget underwent some minor tweaks and changes but was approved in the amount of $83,069,470 of which $79,837,470 is for the operating budget and $3,232,000 is for capital reserve.

“I appreciate all the hard effort that everyone put in,” said Commissioner Steve Dershem. “No tax increases … we look forward to trying to use a road map for next year’s financial activity.”

At the Dec. 4 commissioner’s meeting, county administrator Margaret Gray and director of financial management Thomas Martin presented the budget. The budget was available for public review for 20 days.

Commissioner Mark Higgins applauded the efforts of everyone who helped put the budget together.

“A lot of effort went into it. A number of department heads started on it back in July,” Higgins said. “Here we are at the end of December, finally approving everything … no property tax increase from Centre County Government for the ninth year in a row.”

According to Higgins, Centre County is one of the few counties in central Pennsylvania that avoided a tax increase.

“I was doing a quick review of some of the surrounding counties and some of them have raised property taxes multiple times over the past nine years,” Higgins said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that Centre County continues to serve its residents well.

“Not only is there no tax increase, but no services are being decreased. In many cases, we are increasing services. That should be noted as well. We are not cutting anywhere,” Pipe said.

The budget was delivered on time for the 218th year in a row, according to Higgins.

In other budget-related news, the commissioners also adopted Resolution 21 of 2018, which enacted a tax levy and rate as follows: Total millage of 7.84 mills on real estate assessed valuation at the rate of taxation of $.78 on each $100 of assessed valuation of taxable property.

The commissioners also unanimously approved a $500,000 contribution to Centre Care, Inc., to assist in construction of a new facility in College Township.

Pipe said that the $500,000 contribution would be a good jump start for the new facility.

“It’s been well-documented that they have to move out by a certain date,” Pipe said. “This will be a good runway for them to know that they’ve got support from the county.”

Dershem helped spearhead the contribution. He talked about the impact that Centre Care has on the community.

“I just think that the new facility that Centre Care is intending to build in College Township will be such an asset to Centre County. It will not only continue the mission that they’ve started, but I think it will grow substantially. I look forward to great things,” Dershem said.

There will be no commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 1. The next scheduled meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8.