Shoch recognized

From left, Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor presented commissioner Chair Rick Shoch with a plaque recognizing him for his eight years of service on the board of commissioners. Shoch did not seek re-election.

SUNBURY — Property owners in Northumberland County will likely see a slight tax increase under the terms of the proposed 2020 budget.

The board of commissioners on Tuesday approved advertising the proposed 2020 budget for public inspection. The commissioners are expected to adopt the budget during a public meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, at the county’s Administration Center.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, county Budget Director Steve Cook explained some of the highlights of the proposed $79.5 million budget.

According to Cook, an overall .667 millage increase is proposed. That would take the county’s total millage from 30.218 to 30.885 mills.

As a result, Cook said the average property owner in the county will see their taxes increase by 92-cents per month. He said that figure is based on the average county assessed property value of $16,469. The county has not had a reassessment since 1972.

Taxes did not increase under the terms of the 2019 budget.

Cook said the proposed budget, which is an increase over the $76.4 million 2019 budget, includes $1.8 million in “extraordinary expenditures.”

Those expenditures include $803,960 to purchase new voting machines, $373,000 associated with work needed on a tower for the county 9-1-1 system and $642,082 to cover the remainder of upgrades needed for the 9-1-1 system.

Commissioner Sam Schiccatano said the county expects to sign a contract to purchase the new voting machines before the end of 2019. Those machines must be in place for the spring primary.

Cook also noted that the proposed 2020 budget includes $15 million in wages and benefits as part of the $26.9 million general fund.

The cost of wages and benefits is expected to increase by $148,078 in 2020.

The budget allows for 253 staff members, as opposed to 233 that were included in the 2019 budget. Cook said the prison staff is budgeted to increase by 21, while the overall county staff is projected to decrease by one.

Schiccatano said $7 million is budgeted for the county prison in 2020. He said the prison budget is expected to come in at $6.8 million for 2019.

He also noted that Joe Klebon, who will be replacing Rick Shoch on the board of commissioners, sat in on the 2020 budget meetings.

In other business, the commissioners approved:

• Re-appointing Debra Dimm to the Northumberland County Recreation Commission, for a five-year term beginning Jan. 1.

• Re-appointing Richard Daniels to the Northumberland County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, for a three-year term beginning Jan. 1. Daniels was also re-appointed to a one-year term as chairman of that board.

President Judge Charles Saylor presented Shoch with a plaque recognizing him for his eight years of service as a commissioner.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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