Though Crawford County’s proposed 2023 budget is $1.1 million out of balance at this point, county officials are confident it can be balanced without raising taxes.

The proposed budget presented at Wednesday’s meeting of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners has total revenue projected at $73,065,831, but with $74,260,932 in expenses. The total budget includes the operating fund, Human Services, Crawford County Care Center and other budgets.

The county’s operating fund budget, which covers day-to-day expenses, currently is $1,195,101 out of balance for next year. Projected spending is $35,172,646, but only $33,977,545 is expected in revenue.

“There’s still work for us to be doing,” Stephanie Franz, the county’s chief finance officer, said in presenting the budget to commissioners. “I have some ideas of places where we can make some cuts to get this into balance. I am confident that by the 28th of December when we pass it, it will be in balance.”

Eric Henry, chairman of commissioners, said the county appreciated the work done by the finance department as well as county offices and departments to have a balanced budget.

“It’s just a challenge to stay with a balanced budget for three years in a row and I’m proud of everybody working that way so we can get there,” Henry said.

The $1.1 million difference between income and expenses is roughly equal to the income from one mill of county real estate tax.

The county’s current real estate tax rate is 21.85 mills.

At their Nov. 2 work session, commissioners said they won’t support a 2023 budget that increases county real estate taxes and still don’t.

“That’s what we agreed to,” Henry said following Wednesday’s meeting about holding the line on county real estate taxes.

A no-tax-increase county budget for 2023 means county property taxes on a property with an assessed value of $26,000 would remain at $568.10. The $26,000 assessed value is Crawford County’s median assessment for homes with the homestead exemption.

To get the 2023 budget into balance, commissioners will ask various offices and departments to make cuts.

“There are capital expenditures in there that we can do away with,” Henry said. “Some positions people have asked for, for next next year, we won’t be able to approve.”

Also, some current open staff positions that have been vacant for a while may be eliminated, Commissioner Christopher Soff said.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Franz said initial revenue projections for 2023 made by the county’s various departments were done in late September and early October.

“Some (departments) were conservative on revenue for next year,” Franz said of their initial projections. “We may make up some of it there.”

Also, some departments projected a blanket 8.6 percent inflation increase all their respective spending for 2023, Franz said. But, spending categories may be less as some expenses may already be under a multi-year contract that includes 2023, she said.

One big impact on the county budget for 2023 is the increase in the county’s health care costs. The county’s health care premium will increase by $850,000 or 8.3 percent, according to Henry and Franz.

The proposed 2023 county budget is available online for public review at the county’s website at crawfordcountypa.net/finance.

It also is available for public inspection at the Commissioners’ Office at the Crawford County Courthouse, 903 Diamond Park, Meadville, during normal business hours. Copies also will be placed at Meadville Public Library, 848 N. Main St., Meadville, and Benson Memorial Library, 213 N. Franklin St., Titusville, during their normal business

Commissioners are expected to take formal action on 2023 budget at their Dec. 28 meeting.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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