No tax increase as commissioners approve budget

Involvement in flooding fix still unclear

January 8, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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The Butler County Board of Commissioners finalized a $172.8 million budget Dec. 27 without a property tax increase.

The budget was presented for the public at the start of December. It lists a general fund balance of $68,115,795 and a total budget for all funds of $172,854,201.

Commissioners unanimously voted to enact the proposed version of the budget without any changes.

“We've been reading about other counties around us in southwest Pennsylvania and some of their challenges,” said Leslie Osche, chairwoman of the board. “We're feeling pretty good about the fact that we were able to get by without a millage or tax increase.”

Their decision keeps the county property tax rate at 27.626 mills. A mill generates $1 in revenue for each $1,000 of a property's assessed value.

The budget passed with little to no debate. The board not only didn't pass any amendments, but no amendments were even put up for consideration.

Public input on the budget over the past month, Osche said, was minimal. They've repeatedly heard pleas from residents hoping to get county funding designated for a widespread fix to flooding in the southwest region of the county.

The commissioners believe their role in that issue is still undetermined. They are waiting for affected municipalities to develop concrete plans. Osche noted that existent infrastructure bank funds might eventually be used to address the problems.

Despite the budget's finalization, there are some pending issues. The county's retirement board is scheduled to meet early in 2020, and there's a possibility that the county's contribution could increase.

The commissioners also hope to establish a capital projects budget in January. The budget isn't mandated by the state, but it is useful for handling expensive, long-term projects.

“We know there are going to be continued building and space challenges moving forward, as evidenced by the clerk of courts working in the public meeting room,” Osche said.

She explained that the county's operating budget deals with the day-to-day, ongoing expenses of running of the county — including salaries, bills, etc. On the other hand, the budget for capital improvements addresses more one-time related costs such as those that would likely address the county's space issues. She said that while the commissioners are not required to approve a budget for capital improvements, they typically do.

In addition to the budget, the commissioners unanimously approved changes to the county's salary board policy. The changes aim to better establish a structure for how employees' salaries are set and adjusted with job changes, such as union status or promotion.

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