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Schuylkill County News

Public Kept in Dark Over $125K in Courthouse Budget Moves Until It’s Too Late … Again

Providing details ahead of time wouldn’t be difficult.

On Wednesday, Schuylkill County Commissioners approved more than $125,000 worth of County budget adjustments and supplemental appropriations.

Generally speaking, these requests from various departments in County government were rather innocent. The County did explain all the major adjustments.

That was the case this time. But it’s not always the case.

As we’ve been harping about recently, it wasn’t until it was too late for the public to have any input into them that we learned details of these budget moves.

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This is how it’s always been with the Commissioners but it should change. While these adjustments were explained and generally make sense, we saw recently that moving money this way could be a way of covering up some rather controversial budget decisions.

Remember the Airport Authority bailout money?

More Budget Adjustments – More Secrecy

Prior to County Finance Director Paul Buber running down the list of the budget adjustments he was seeking approval for on Wednesday, he told Commissioners, “Each budget adjustment has an explanation on the bottom.”

Did he mean their bottoms? His bottom?

Buber probably the bottom of the paperwork the Commissioners get at the board meetings. But why not give that information to the public prior to the meetings, when the Agenda is posted online the day prior?

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There’s no harm in doing it. It wouldn’t require any more work. And it would be just a little more transparent than the Courthouse isn’t already.

When the details about these budget adjustments is withheld until the time it currently is at meetings, the public has no chance to question or challenge it during their public comment period at the beginning of meetings.

This is a practice that must change with Schuylkill County Commissioners meetings and there’s no reason it can’t change immediately.

Latest Budget Adjustments Approved by Schuylkill Commissioners

So, what were the $125,390 in budget adjustments and supplemental budget appropriations the Commissioners did unanimously approve on Wednesday?

Here are details on the biggest, based on the info Buber supplied to the public on Wednesday:

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$40,000 to the Public Defender’s Office: Buber said this money would help cover the cost of the Public Defender being assigned a capital crimes case. He said this was not anticipated last year when the 2023 budget was organized.

$46,940 to the Maintenance Dept.: Buber said this money is to cover the unanticipated cost to repair the Schuylkill County Bicentennial monument in front of the Courthouse. It was damaged by a vehicle in February last year.

The County says it expects to get reimbursed for this cost, less the $2,500 insurance deductible.

$5,380 to Adult Probation: Buber explained that this money is to be used to cover changes to the work release program.

$28,800 to Schuylkill County Prison: Buber said this money would fund changes to jail management software.

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County Administrator Gary Bender added that the state would eventually reimburse the County government for these expenses.

Still Missing the Point

Providing details about these expenses when the County does is better than just blasting through them during meetings. At least they’re giving some information but they continue to miss the point about why it’s important to do it sooner.

These expenses were rather easily explained and shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. But they have in the past and will again, surely.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. PTFloridian

    July 3, 2023 at 9:25 pm

    Can these deceptive dolts be removed from holding these positions, in a recall or something-like-it?…they play this game and treat the folks like peasants with non-explanations without recourse, while Bootsie talks over and demeans everyone that asks questions

    • Canary Commenter

      July 4, 2023 at 9:10 pm

      Two of the three just won Primary elections, so we only have ourselves to blame.

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