CLEARFIELD – With the state budget still in flux, on Tuesday the Clearfield County Commissioners gave an update on the county’s budget situation.
Clearfield County Commissioner Chairperson Joan Robinson-McMillen said the commissioners are continuing with a hiring freeze that was enacted in August. She said overtime is also on hold and that county employees are being urged to refrain from unnecessary trips.
The commissioners are also slowing down payments for services that the county is reimbursed for. Commissioner John Sobel said that a lot of service providers in Clearfield County are hurting due to the state budget impasse.
“We are continuing to hold the line here,” said McMillen. “It’s time we stop covering the state’s debt.”
She continued, adding that the state mandates certain services, but then fails to fund them.
“It’s got to stop.”
The commissioners said that in a recent letter from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, there is a possibility that a budget proposal could be on the governor’s desk on Thursday. However, Commissioner Mark McCracken believes it may take up to three weeks for a budget to reach the governor. McCracken pointed out that adjustments made to the budget may put it at the three-week mark.
Solicitor Kim Kesner also mentioned that none of the past budget proposals had funding for the state-funded part of the district attorney’s salary. To date, Clearfield County has not received money from 2008 or 2009 from the state. McMillen said at a prior meeting that the state is required to pay for 60 percent of a county’s district attorney’s salary. McCracken said that legislation was part of the infamous 2005 pay-raise bill. He said that bad legislation then is affecting counties now.
The commissioners also voiced their displeasure at the state’s lack of transparency with its budget process. They noted that while they have yet to see a copy of the current draft, the county is required by state law to have a budget draft in place in November and have the budget passed by Dec. 31. Without a state budget to reference in regards to state-funded county services, the commissioners face a roadblock in creating their own budget.
“How can we create a budget when we don’t know what the state has in store for us,” said McMillen.