HONESDALE—The proposed 2017-2018 Pennsylvania Budget could see $400,000 cuts to Wayne County if it passes the Senate.
County Chief Clerk Vicky Botjer stated at the recent commissioners meeting that the cuts will remove reimbursement funding from county trials, senior judges, county courts, juror's costs, behavioral punishment grants, and adult and juvenile probation.
Behavioral health and other human services funding could also received cuts due to the proposed budget plan.
“Those items that Mrs. Botjer just outlined are very necessary, they are certainly discretionary in terms of how we spend the money,” said Commissioner Wendell Kay.
“...that's the purpose for the line items being set the way the are, so that there is some local control and that we can look at local conditions and target needs in our community,” he added.
Kay described the proposed defunding as “complete non-starters … It shows a lack of understanding by some people of what it is that counties have to deal with and the nature of county government in 2017.”
Commissioner Adams stated at the meeting that, by his calculation, covering the costs for the defunded programs would require almost a three percent tax increase. “We're very concerned about that,” he said.
Including the 2017 budget, Wayne County hasn't raised taxes in three years, states a release from the commissioners office.
Adams stated in that release, “We all recognize that the State is dealing with a budget problem, but cutting funding for mandated services and shifting the tax and revenue burden down to the local level simply requires us to raise taxes on Wayne County property owners to replace the lost revenue,”
The proposed budget, House Bill 218, is now at the mercy of the Senate Appropriations Committee for final approval.
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania asked for local administrators to submit impact figures to help inform the final state spending decision.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has until June 30 to pass a balanced budget.
—Information from a release was used in this story.