Low revenue may equal tough budgeting

JOHNSTOWN – The chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee said county government faces another tough budget year trying to make up for lagging revenue.

“I think the biggest issue is revenues don’t seem to be where they should be,” Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan said Monday.

The Fulton County Budget Office is still receiving proposed 2015 departmental budget requests in a process that will eventually lead to submission to Board of Supervisors’ standing committees next month.

“In August, the departments will be presenting their budgets to their oversight committees,” county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch said Monday.

She said she can’t make public a solid figure yet on how much the county departments requested, or what the proposed county tax rate looks like for 2015.

“I don’t even have them all in the system to compute them,” Kuntzsch said.

Meanwhile, Fagan said the county continues to try to make up for lost revenue. He said the county is even down from “historic lows” in revenue received in recent years.

He noted the sales tax situation hasn’t been good statewide either. Fulton County’s overall sales tax receipts rose by only a slight $23,516 for the second quarter, which follows a state trend or either flat or decreasing sales tax figures. Fagan said the county’s sales tax receipts used to total about $20 million every year, but have dipped to $16 million.

Fagan has served as a supervisor for 11 years, including many years in budget review discussions. He said the 2015 budget process could be just as tough this year as other years.

“I don’t think it’s going to be any different than the last four or five years,” Fagan said.

He said there still remain many unknowns that effect county spending plans, such as how much to budget for energy costs.

“There’s so much we don’t control,” Fagan said.

The 2015 county budget schedule calls for board oversight committees to review departmental budgets from Aug. 12 to 27, release of the tentative budget to the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 10, a budget public hearing Nov. 24, and final budget review and adoption between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 25 adopted an $85.3 million 2014 county budget that included an average property tax-rate decrease of 6.3 percent.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.