Blair budget passes without changes

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners followed through on Tuesday with adoption of a 2020 budget with a 3.7 percent increase in real estate taxes.

No portion of the proposed $56.78 million budget has changed since its introduction in November, Finance Director Jennifer Sleppy said Tuesday before commissioners Bruce Erb, Terry Tomassetti and Ted Beam Jr. cast a unanimous votes in favor of adoption.

Based on the vote, real estate tax bills will be prepared based on 4.074 mills, an increase of 0.149 mills from the current 3.925 mills. Because of the change, the owner of a property assessed at $100,000 will see their county real estate taxes increase by $14.70 to $407.40 from $392.50.

Commissioners and county department heads devoted hours over several weeks to examining the proposed budget and considering options for balancing it.

Erb expressed his appreciation to those involved in what he described as a “Herculean effort” to settle on the proposed budget, based on trying to be mindful of the county’s needs and the taxpayers.

“I’m satisfied that we’ve done as much as we can for this budget,” Erb said.

Budget requests from department heads initially came in at $8.5 million more than projected revenue, prompting commissioners to look for savings and to ask department heads for budget cuts, then to ask again for even more cuts.

As adopted, the county’s 2020 budget shows revenue at $54.88 million, an increase of $218,841 based on the tax increase.

Expenses projected at $56.78 million are $1.46 million higher than 2019’s budgeted expenses.

In addition to the tax increase, the adopted budget is being balanced with the allocation of about $1.9 million from reserve funds. That tactic means the county’s reserve fund is projected to drop from $4.85 million to a projected $2.96 million by the end of 2020, based on Sleppy’s calculations.

The county’s 2020 budget also shifted some of the taxing purposes within its millage rate, which will allow the county library system to receive a slight increase in its annual funding. It also calls for revenue from the county’s hotel tax levy, instead of real estate taxes, to be used toward county park and recreational expenses, including the operation of Fort Roberdeau, the county’s Revolutionary War era restored fort in Sinking Valley.

More budget information is available on the county’s website at www.blairco.org.

A paper copy of the budget has also been available for review in the county’s law library and in the commissioners office at the courthouse.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.


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