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Budget still in deficit

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County’s 2022 draft budget deficit is down to $2.6 million, an amount that commissioners will have to decide how to cover before Dec. 3, the date targeted to introduce a balanced spending plan.

Commissioners, who held a budget meeting Monday, said they remain interested in learning more about how the county can spend American Rescue Plan dollars allocated to help the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

While county leaders suspect that ARP money can be used for air conditioning upgrades and possibly the first of three payments toward a stormwater management project at the Altoona Blair County Airport, they may have to adopt a 2022 budget without knowing.

“We’re really in a period of uncertainty,” Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb said Monday.

Finance Director Jennifer Sleppy offered commissioners a listing of 2022’s proposed capital expenses that included $70,000 for replacement air conditioning units, $60,000 to air condition White Oak Hall at Fort Roberdeau and $162,500 for the first year of a three-year stormwater management project at the Altoona-Blair County Airport.

Erb suggested keeping those items in the budget and using the ARP money to pay for them if the county is advised that such expenditures are OK.

If the county wouldn’t get the OK, then commissioners may have to identify other money to cover the cost or delay the proposed improvements.

Sleppy also listed remaining capital expenses in the draft 2022 budget as follows: $69,420 for a time-keeping software program, $50,000 for a building/maintenance software program, $87,500 for new computers and $50,000 for a sheriff vehicle.

As of Monday, the proposed draft budget showed a slight increase in projected revenue, from $55.96 million to $56.14 million. That reflects the latest property assessments, county leaders said.

Expenditures were estimated at $58.78 million, resulting in the $2.64 million deficit.

In prior years when commissioners neared a budget introduction date with expenditures exceeding revenue, they have relied on reserve funds and/or real estate tax increases to balance the spending plan.

The commissioners remaining budget meetings are currently scheduled for 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 11 a.m. Dec. 2 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 3.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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