Commissioners Refute Claims of Hiding Money in the Budget

CLEARFIELD – On Tuesday a former Clearfield County Commissioner accused the current board of commissioners of illegally building a fund balance and unfairly taxing residents.

Tony Yankevich said the issue was a sore spot with him, what he called years of concealment of a build-up of surplus general fund.

Yankevich said he went to the controller’s office to get his figures. He said the county has $8 million in surplus this year. He claimed the county could only build up an operating reserve up to 10 percent.

“You’ve been levying 21 mills in taxes the last several years,” said Yankevich. “It’s unconscionable in this economy.”

“From where I’m sitting the county commissioners have been overtaxing us.”

Commissioner Chair Joan Robinson-McMillen said she took exception to Yankevich’s claims that the commissioners were hiding funds. She pointed out that Yankevich went to a county office to get the numbers that he presented to the commissioners, just like any other citizen could.

Solicitor Kim Kesner took umbrage with Yankevich’s claims.

“I have to take issue,” said Kesner. “He’s impugning commissioners and controllers who have served since he has.”

Kesner pointed out in his solicitor’s report that there are no rules concerning a county’s general fund when it comes to building up a general fund.

“He argues that maintaining any fund balance violates county code,” said Kesner, who also pointed out that a lawsuit Yankevich filed against the county on similar grounds was rejected by the courts.

Kesner also pointed out that if the county had a zero balance at the end of each year, then at the beginning of the year the county would have to borrow money, or take out a tax anticipation note, until tax money came started coming in. The commissioners and Kesner also pointed out that the extra fund money also serves in case of an emergency. In the case of the recent state budget impasse, the commissioners were able to use some of that money to continue funding employees and services until the state could again reimburse the county for those employees and services.

“These are judgment issues,” said Kesner.

Kesner also pointed out that the reserves stipulated by the 10 percent limit are the operating reserve and capital reserve. He said there is nothing that regulates an unreserved fund balance.

“It is not illegal for counties to maintain a fund balance,” said Kesner.

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