Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the government’s 2024 Preliminary Budget on Wednesday.
The $200+ million spending plan will not require a tax increase. However, the County is planning to draw more than $10.4 million from what they call the “unassigned funds balance” to plug a shortfall in revenue similar to last year.
During a presentation of the 2024 Preliminary Budget at this week’s Work Session meeting, Finance Director Paul Buber explained to the board that initial stages of the budgeting process showed a much bigger deficit, like $60.6 million big.
After paring down projected expenses for the upcoming year, Buber said the deficit was reduced to that $10.4 million.
The current plan is to draw $10.4 million from what they call the unassigned funds balance to fill that gap. However, Buber said, “The Commissioners may want to consider other options.”
2024 Preliminary Budget Approved by Schuylkill County Commissioners
The total $202,502,840 spending plan for 2024 includes the General Fund, 5 human services agencies, “about 20 other special revenue funds”, a Capital project, a reserve fund, an internal service fund, and a debt service fund, Buber explained.
Of that $202+ million, more than $83.3 million is dedicated to the General Fund.
Despite drawing more than $10 million from unassigned funds to fill the shortfall in revenue vs. expenses next year, Buber said there will still be enough money left in unassigned funds to cover January and February expenses until tax revenue is collected in March.
The millage rate for 2024 will remain at 15.98 mills, which the Commissioners like to boast is the 6th consecutive year with out a tax increase.
Once again, the County says costs associated with employees are the biggest drivers in increased expenses for the upcoming year.
Buber detailed those expenses compared to 2023:
- Compensation: 3% increase (approximately $645,000)
- Health care: 15% increase (approx. $2.5 million)
- Comprehensive insurance: 17% increase (approx. $110,000)
- Outsourcing inmates: 55% increase (approx. $770,000)
- Children & Youth: 10% increase (approx. $422,000)
$5.9M Upgrade to Schuylkill County 9-1-1
In 2024, Schuylkill County Commissioners are likely to be asked to consider investing in a $5.9 million upgrade to the County’s 9-1-1 infrastructure. If approved, the project would be financed and a first payment on that project would happen in 2025.
That project includes upgrading a voice record, a tower site in Union Township, and the purchase of 18 emergency radios.
The County expects to spend about $11.5 million in its American Rescue Plan Act money in the next year.
During the next year, the County will spend approximately $6.3 million on the property tax reassessment project.
A copy of the 2024 Preliminary Budget is available for public inspection at the Commissioners office at Schuylkill County Courthouse in Pottsville. The County says it’ll post “budgetary information” for both the Preliminary and Final budgets at the County website, however as of Thursday night, it still hasn’t been posted.
At their Dec. 20, 2023 meeting, Commissioners will be asked to pass the Final Budget for 2024.