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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

County Taxpayers Pay Price When State Cuts Funding

County Taxpayers Pay Price When State Cuts Funding

91111The Potter County Commissioners have joined their counterparts from across Pennsylvania is developing a 10-point lobbying platform that will be unveiled in a news conference on Thursday, Jan. 16. The local board participated in a conference call Wednesday held by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania staff to finish work on the document. It will be used to lobby state lawmakers as they begin work on the 2014-15 state budget and deliberate issues involving county governments and local taxpayers.

Top item on the platform is reform of the funding system for 911 emergency communications systems that counties are required to operate and staff. A funding mechanism involving monthly surcharges on telephone bills has failed to generate enough revenue to cover those costs and counties have been forced to turn to the taxpayers to cover the gap. Potter County Department of Emergency Services (DES) was restructured last year by the Board of Commissioners. Rather than appointing a full-time successor to John Hetrick as 911 coordinator, the commissioners contracted with a consultant, AMP Global Strategies, resulting in a cost savings. The plan assures that services continue and state mandates are met as the legislature works on rewriting the outdated 911 funding law.

Among other top priorities in the county platform is a call for the state to restore its funding of human service programs that counties are required to provide. Cuts in state funding, averaging 10 percent over each of the past two years, have come at a time when demand for most of the services has been rising, shifting more of the cost to county taxpayers. The platform also calls for the state to meet its legal requirement to pay 65 percent of a county district attorney’s salary. Potter County is owed $112,000 for 2013 alone.

A copy of CCAP’s 2014 legislative priorities will be posted Thursday on the organization’s website, pacounties.org.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else notice the hypocrisy of the so called conservatives in our state government? Their real way of making themselves look conservative is to make the counties run the programs that the state is supposed to run -- and make the counties pay for them. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

If the county and the local town councils would concentrate on trying to bring in company's that create jobs they wouldn't have to run around begging for money all the time! You need more working tax payers not handouts from the state and higher taxes !

Anonymous said...

Public Safety should be governments top priority! Sadly it is not. Getting re-elected is governments top priority. There are numerous funding streams for public safety on all levels of government. Money should be diverted from other broken programs that no longer work. The cellular phone carriers forced emergency services to re-band their public safety radios, costing many of them thousands of dollars. They lobbied the FCC to get this done. Yet you see huge profits being made by these companies and huge bonuses being paid to there CEOs.

Anonymous said...

And yet we will never learn.
We'll keep electing politicians that promise us "free stuff", or make certain demands for "our own good" until the funding gets cut and we find out we have to pay for it all. As if that was never going to be the case.

We allow ourselves to be played like fiddles.



Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:24. What is "conservative" about the state dictating things to the counties and running from its own duties? To me that delegation and dereliction of duty is a violation of the constitutional oath. It is a real screwing of the counties with low populations especially. How do Mr. Causer and Mr. Scarnati answer that?

Anonymous said...

How many of the bloggers here have taken time to read the county budget?

Why is it appropriate to pass along the cost of local programs to the next taxing authority?

The largest employer of county government is Human Services. The programs they administer are partially mandated by the state, but not all. And often the programs reflect taxpayers picking up the pieces of lives ruined by people who don't care for themselves- people who use drugs, don't want to work, can't keep together a cohesive family unit, and generally are very comfortable allowing others to provide.

And so we construct these costly bureaucracies- with an Administrator at the top, channeling down to several Directors, multiple supervisors, numerous caseworkers, and some aides. All are paid a salary, health insurance, and a pension contribution by the public. I'm not saying it's all bad, but I am saying it's all very expensive, and maybe it's time for the Commissioners to stop rubber-stamping every training request, every new position, and to look closely at these agencies and start providing staff according to local tax revenue, instead of always trying to pass the funding buck up the food chain.

Don't have enough money? Well neither do most of us, and we adjust and do the best we can. It's perhaps time for local government to do the same and learn to do without. It won't kill 'em. And the bosses will earn their pay as they manage with what they have, provide with what we have given them of our labors, and cease the continuous pursuit of what they believe we all need as opposed to what we can afford.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points by 2:07. I guess we need to tell the Commissioners what services we do not want any more. I am just not sure which abused child should get no help or which old widow should not get a home delivered meal or which cancer patient should have to walk to the treatment center. I do not begin to understand the bureaucracy tree that 2:07 has described and I am betting that he or she was probably a part of it based on all the knowledge displayed in the comment. But until somebody demonstrates with some facts rather than assumptions that those jobs are not really needed I am not going to call for just cutting jobs because it sounds so easy. And when an abused little boy cries out in pain or a mentally challenged/retarded person needs help with something, I am glad somebody is there to help.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read a comment on here about training requests I wonder how much the person who wrote the comment really knows what they are talking about. Call me names if you want but I think of training and education as good things.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder if the people of Potter County are defiantly proud of being uneducated. Is training really such a bad thing? I am very conservative and believe in a limited government but if the people in government are going to be smarter in the way they do their jobs then they do need to keep current on our training. I commend people for wanting to learn more and do their jobs better.

Anonymous said...

Causer and Scarnati will never respond here so maybe one of you who voted for those guys will explain how they can justify dumping the state's duties on the counties and making county taxpayers foot the bill? Also how can they let the 911 funding get so out of whack? Answers?

Anonymous said...

I'm conservative, educated, never worked in the bureaucracy, but posted at 2:07.

I appreciate the work done by most Human Services employees. The caseworkers there are underpaid and deserve our support.

However, other governmental agencies and businesses train their employees in far more efficient ways than sending them away at taxpayer expense. Again, this isn't controlled by the local employees; they need their training and much of it is mandated by the state. But why don't the commissioners insist or lobby for distance learning and/or videoconferencing? There's plenty of space and available technology to devise a classroom in the buildings for centralized training. It would even be more convenient for some of the workers than needing to travel. I'm not being defiant, and am certainly not ignorant, but if you consider the number of sessions held out of town and add the costs over time, it is considerable. There are alternatives that provide what's necessary and cost less. That is not an assumption. And if you notice, I never called for eliminating jobs; I only suggested they be done as efficiently as possible, and to realize taxpayers in the county are pinched, and we cannot always do everything we want.

The safety net will never catch everyone, and the little boy crying out in the middle of the night will more than likely remain in the home that causes his pain. You can only do your best, but you owe it to the public to keep looking for ways to do it efficiently in difficult economic times. That's all I was trying to say.

Solomon's words for the wise said...

To 9:19--Your comment certainly has merit. I can't imagine a county employee who would not rather go to the local PCEC facility and participate in a distance learning project rather than traveling on slippery roads to a distant location where they may have to stay over away from their families.
I agree that the County Commissioners should lobby for that to happen as a cost saving move as well. I have no doubt that the Potter County commissioners would and will push for this with the state organization.
This group of Commissioners have been diligent in working together to bring better government to the residents of Potter County.
They have been open and responsive to questions from the public and rarely disagree.
They have been successful in promoting their idea for distribution of funds for human services that was adopted statewide.
They are all intelligent, thoughtful, and do their best to stay on top of things of importance to the citizens of their county.
They are definitely leaders we are fortunate to have and my bet is that they will work to see that your idea for distance learning for the county employees is implemented where possible.
Your well thought comment is refreshing and helpful.

Anonymous said...

All these laws and mandates in place. Now ...

People want smaller government ... so, we cut taxes and programs to please the people. Laws/Mandates still in place ... States have to pick up the bill. People want smaller state government ... so on ... so on ...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there is a way we can blame Obama for this

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:27 --

I'd blame the rich.