By Peter Becker
Managing Editor
Pike County taxes for 2013 are expected to increase by over two mills.
The proposed budget is calling for over $3.4 million additional funds for the county judicial system.
Without comment, the County Commissioners at the Dec. 5th approved to advertise the proposed 2013 budget. The Commissioners intend to vote on the final budget as well as the millage rate at a meeting Dec. 27.
The total millage, as proposed, would be 18.54. Of the total 2.25 mill increase, one mill is for general expenses and the bulk of the rest is for the bond issue that was needed for the planned courthouse annex.
The total budget, as proposed, is $40,876,727, which is down nearly $5 million from the present, 2012 budget of $45,759,111.
Expenditures are expected to rise significantly for the Judicial category, an increase of over $3.4 million. The total for Judicial is set at $9,231,550. The current year budget for Pike County courts is $5,769,930.
Courthouse annex
In March 2012, the Commissioners acted to secure a bond issue to erect a critically needed annex to their historic but cramped 1874 courthouse. Chairman Richard Caridi said at the time that the project would require raising taxes by a mill.
The General Obligation bonds total $12 million which included $10 million for capital projects. Of that, $6 million to $8 million may be needed for the courthouse annex.
Pike County President Judge Joseph F. Kameen and Judge Gregory H. Chelak issued a joint statement in March stressing the need for more space for the judicial system. They stated, "The current lack of courtroom space, inadequate and inefficient facilities, and antiquated utility services are creating severe limitations on the court’s ability to function."
Other areas cut
Also seeing an increase is Corrections, set at $11,702,179, which is up by $317,250 from this year, $11,384,929. This also includes the Probation Department.
Although there is a huge increase slated for Judicial and a lesser hike for Corrections, other areas are to be trimmed. Caridi stated that they have eliminated four positions and may cut a fifth through attrition. Salary levels are being kept the same. Travel and conferences are being reduced.
Caridi stated that the Commissioners agonized with having to raise taxes, which is the first time in three years, but they saw no way around it. Faced with a lack of state funding and rising costs, as well as the need to provide essential services, the money, he said, had to come from somewhere.
Due to a drastic reduction in state allocation, Administration is slated for a big hit, with a budget of $7,074,237, almost $8 million less than in 2012, which is $13,811,393.
Due to a drastic reduction in state allocated funds, the line item for Child Welfare is reduced by nearly a million. This department is allocated to receive $4,196,809. In 2012, Child Welfare received $5,182,257.
The Miscellaneous category is down by almost $940,000. The 2013 proposed budget leaves $8,671,952 for everything else, compared to $9,610,602 in 2013.
The county budget millage is proposed at 15.54 mills, up from 14.54 in 2012. Add to this the county debt service millage of 2.7, a significant increase from 2012, which was set at 1.5. The county SRCP (Scenic Rural Character Preservation) millage was set at .30 mill, up from .25 mill in 2012.
That gives a total, proposed millage of 18.54 mills for 2013, compared to 16.29 mills in 2012 (up 2.25 mills).
This is based on an assessed valuation of $1,117,710,510 (almost $1.2 billion). The 2012 assessed valuation was $1,114,844,150.