Property taxes held for record 11th year but state funding shortfalls could force tax increase in 2017, commissioners warns
The good news? Dauphin Co. Commissioners passed a $243 million budget for 2016 that holds the line on taxes for an 11th year straight.
The not-so-good news? Commissioners warned potential cuts in state funding could jeopardize that record next year.
“The state currently owes Dauphin Co. almost $30 million in human services funding’” said commission Chairman Jeff Haste. “This is forcing us to seek a $20 million tax anticipation note to keep cash flow going until we start getting local tax revenue in mid-February.
“But we’ll have a larger problem if some of the significant cuts to human services funding that are being discussed makes it into the final state budget,. If we see a $6 million cut in Children and Youth funding, that equals a half-mill of taxes.’’
Haste, who serves as the 2015 County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s (CCAP) board chairman, said the organization is committed to working with lawmakers to ensure human services funding isn’t held hostage in future budget impasses.
“In Dauphin County, we’re fortunate that our careful budgeting allowed us to cover human services funding thus far without borrowing,’’ Haste said. “But other counties have been forced to cut back on services and borrow. Luzerne County had its bond rating downgraded due in large part to the deficit created by the state withholding $20 million in funding.’’
Commissioner Mike Pries stressed if the county is forced to raise taxes, it won’t be a decision the board makes lightly.
“This board weighs the potential impact to the taxpayer in every decision we make,” Pries said. “We’ve managed to keep the lid on property taxes for 11 years, but it’s a record we can continue only if the state doesn’t slash funding for vital services.’’
Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III echoed his fellow commissioner’s concerns, noting the state is causing “significant uncertainty’’ about the county’s budget next year.
“State lawmakers are considering pushing back $172 million counties are owed in children and youth funding into the next fiscal year to help balance the budget,’’ Hartwick said. “Counties are seeing record numbers of child abuse reports in the wake of new child protection laws. If the state doesn’t adequately fund these services, it’s local taxpayers that are forced to make up the difference.’’
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 16:29
Written by Dan Miller
Construction of the new Amtrak train station on West Main Street is expected to start in early 2016, PennDOT officials have told the borough.
The $32 million project includes building a pedestrian bridge from the private Penn State Harrisburg student housing over West Main Street so students can cross safely to the new train station.
Emaus Street is also to be extended to West Main Street as part of the train station project. The Emaus Street extension would be completed toward the end of the overall project.
Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge Over Vine Street
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 17:36
By now, you probably know that you “should” be getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, but do you know why?
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:18
Written by Eric Wise
The Highspire group behind the proposed transfer of 229 borough students from the Steelton-Highspire School District to the Middletown Area School District rebuked arguments against the transfer by both districts in a response it filed with the state Department of Education.
Quite simply, the Highspire Education Coalition, as the group is called, focused on the educational merits of a secession by Highspire to Middletown Area, claiming that it would provide Highspire children with a better education.
It refutes Middletown’s claims that the transfer would cause overcrowding in Middletown’s schools or a financial burden to the district, and asserts that Middletown’s fears that Highspire students are behind academically proves their point about the move’s educational merits.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 13:53
Written by Eric Wise
Should the borough's 225 students leave Steelton-Highspire and attend Middletown Area? Both school districts say no.
The influx of 225 Highspire students who might be transferred to Middletown Area School District under a proposal by Highspire to leave Steelton-Highspire School District would strain Middletown’s resources and result in a great deal of costs to the district, according to documents filed by the Middletown district with the state Department of Education.
If students from Highspire attended Middletown schools, the district would have to hire 22 people at a cost of $1.6 million, the district said in its response to the state to Highspire’s secession request.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:06