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Franklin Co. jail and court costs jump, but commissioners hold line on taxes

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Nov 21, 2017 6:46 PM
chambersburg borough hall.jpg (600x340)

(Chambersburg) -- About 82 cents of every tax dollar is spent on crime, courts and corrections - up from 78 cents of every dollar in 2017 and 74 cents a decade ago.

Franklin County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a preliminary budget for 2018 without a tax increase. Income is flat while spending declined 1.4 percent. The county again will draw from reserves to balance the $107 million budget.

County real estate tax rates remain unchanged at 25 mills for operations and 2.6 mills for debt service.

County employees will get pay raises based on their rates of pay, though the amounts have not been calculated. The total increase in the budget for salaries is 3.1 percent.

The county has about 700 full- and part-time employees.

Running the county jail is estimated to cost $13.8 million, nearly 10 percent more than a year ago.

The county however is beginning to see results from concerted efforts to deal with the opioid crisis, according to Commissioner David Keller.

The county has focused more on treatment than punishment in recent months.

Low risk inmates do not always benefit from being in jail, Commissioner Robert Thomas said.

"I think we are making progress," he said. "It's not always the charge. It's what caused the charge."

County taxpayers are having to pick up a greater share for the cost of courts and corrections. The county is getting about $800,000 less in federal criminal justice grants, and the state is reimbursing the county $245,000 less for prosecutors' salaries.

The Day Reporting Center will spend $200,000 less on behavior interventions in 2018.  

The budget includes:

  • $1.2 million to continue the planning to modernize court operations. Chief Clerk John Hart said he is still gathering information before making a presentation to commissioners.
  •  $1.7 million set aside for equipment purchases and additional personnel. Commissioners will vote separately on each item.
  • Increased budgets for the district attorney and commissioners.
  • Decreased budgets for row offices, such as clerk of courts and sheriff.
  • A reserve balance of $9.7 million in the General Fund, enough cash to pay General Fund expenses for 66 days.

The final budget is to be adopted on Dec. 12. 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion

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