Commissioners present 2011 proposed budget

Yesterday morning, the Elk County Commissioners presented the county's 2011 proposed budget with no tax increase. In order to keep costs at a minimum, all offices were advised to plan for a zero percent increase in their 2011 budget.“The year 2010 proved to follow a continued trend of burdensome challenges on small local governments,” said Commissioner Ronald T. Beimel. “Unemployment rates remained at a high level. The federal and state levels still remain, with the crushing pressure of additional mandates and cuts from their budgets that have forced county government to do more with continually less revenue.“Budget reductions in human services, as well as the state remaining in arrears for the reimbursement of the DA [district attorney] salary, the county is searching for any possible revenue and attempting to micromanage every financial detail of the taxpayers' dollars.”The total general fund budget for 2011 is $11,225,891.47. “Besides limited spending, savings were realized in wages and benefits through workforce reduction by attrition,” said Beimel. “The Elk County Commissioners continue with their track record of running a government as efficiently and lean as possible, always keeping in mind that they are stewards of the taxpayer dollars.”For the year 2011, the county plans to solicit a Tax Anticipation Note [TAN] in the amount of $950,000 to help with cash flow until the taxes are received in the spring.“It was presented to the department heads that a zero percent increase would be accepted for this year's budget and they helped a lot on that," said Commissioner June H. Sorg. “We really appreciate what they've done-- without their help, we definitely could not have done this.”The 2011 proposed budget is calculated on a millage rate of 13.65 mills. One mill is about $505,000, with projected non-collectables of 10 percent: 12.65 mills will be utilized in the General Fund while one mill will be reflected in the debt fund. A per capita rate of $5 will also be assessed. There is also a mineral tax and a 3 percent hotel tax; however, the hotel tax only affects tourists.“The budget also reflects an increase in our health insurance, as well as increases for the employees,” Sorg said. “Plus the hotel tax is listed because it is revenue that comes in and goes out; that revenue goes directly to the hotel committee plus to the tourist agency, so that's not money the county can spend.“The $5 per capita is still part of the the tax base that we have included as well.”For more on this story, see the Dec. 8th edition of The Daily Press.