CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield County Children Youth and Family Services caseworker is in the state capitol in Harrisburg Tuesday to urge lawmakers to preserve funding in the state budget for programs that help children and youth, tobacco prevention and cessation, nursing homes and families struggling with the challenges of mental retardation.
“The state and federal government have mandated many of the services that counties provide to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Erin Kate Troxell, caseworker. “So I am traveling to Harrisburg to ask our state legislators to work with us to assure that these mandates are supported by responsible funding so that our local taxpayers do not have to foot the bill.”
“The Clearfield County community is defined by the well-being of the people who live here,” Troxell said. “Caring for abused and neglected children, helping families with addiction or mental health challenges, preserving the dignity and respect of our senior citizens, and many other programs are responsibilities we take very seriously. Providing these services to meet the needs of citizens is vital to everyone’s quality of life. We are making the trip to the state Capitol to make sure these services are not threatened.”
Statewide, counties spend as much as 60 percent of their total budgets on the provision of human services — many of which are mandated. Not coincidentally, state and federal dollars which support human services are the largest source of funding for counties, often accounting for more than half of county revenue.
Officials contend that without a commitment by the state and federal governments to honor their obligations to fund these mandated and entitlement services, and without county tax reform, the delicate balancing act forces commissioners to choose between cutting local services and increasing taxes.
“When responsibility for funding these vital services is shifted from federal and state budgets, counties must find the missing dollars somewhere,” added Troxell. “Counties have nowhere to turn except to local property taxpayers to make up the difference.”
Pennsylvania’s counties rely almost exclusively on the real estate tax as their local tax base.