County budget cutting continues

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday continued to whittle away at the tentative $85.4 million 2014 county budget, slashing funding to get the average county property tax rate decrease of 2.5 percent even lower.

The board conducted a work session on the budget at the County Office Building. Supervisors will conduct another budget meeting at 1 p.m. Monday at County Office Building.

When county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch released the tentative budget Nov. 12, it carried a nearly 3 percent average property tax rate decrease, but five of the county’s municipalities would see a rate hike under the plan.

Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery, chairman of the Finance Committee, said that’s a good start. But he expressed a hope supervisors can cut even more. The board Monday took at least a couple hours to go through revenues and appropriations and slash more. Fuel and energy appropriations seemed to be the biggest target.

“Hopefully, there’s a little more we can do today,” Callery said. “The department heads deserve a tremendous amount of credit. They’ve been extremely frugal with their budgets.”

Kuntzsch outlined the latest budget situation before the cuts were enacted. The average county tax rate is $11.44 per $1,000 of assessed valuation – a 2.5 percent decrease. The total tax levy would be $28.4 million for next year. The board is looking to adopt the budget either next week or in early December.

Kuntzsch said there are a few personnel changes the board will act on next week that will impact the budget. They include a new $12,000 per year, 19-hour part-time position in the District Attorney’s Office.

The board Monday made many small cuts of about $2,000 to $5,000 from county departmental budgets, but some other larger ones at well. The total cumulative figure of the cuts was unavailable Monday.

Supervisors proposed increasing by $52,000 the $154,161 budgeted by the county as revenue for Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

That was the only change proposed on the revenue side, but on the appropriations side, the board cut many of the departmental budgets.

Among the appropriations cuts proposed were: cutting $5,000 from gas and electric from county offices; lopping $30,000 in gas and electric from the county jail; and chopping $8,800 from sheriff’s department fuel and gas appropriations.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at