Politics & Government

What’s new in Lancaster County budget? Christmas bonuses, new jobs, and fee, tax hike

Lancaster County Council has passed the first reading of the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.
Lancaster County Council has passed the first reading of the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget. AP

The Lancaster County Council passed the first reading of the proposed county budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 — the first step to approving a nearly $98.7 million budget.

The $98,677,120 county budget is a $4,694,901 increase from the previous year’s budget of $93,982,219.

The proposed general fund budget is set at $59,622,444. That’s a 12.9% increase from the 2018-2019 general fund budget of $52,796,115.

In his introduction to the budge proposal, first submitted to council April 9, County Administrator Steve Willis said developing the original budget proposal involved more guesswork than usual. Typically, the county government receives estimated population growth figures from the Census Bureau by March, Willis said, but the Trump government shutdown delayed those numbers.

In the April meeting, county council updated the proposed budget proposal to include a $1 million fund for continued improvements of the Barnett building and future facility upgrades at the Department of Social Services, payment for half of an athletics and tourism supervisor salary, and a $15 increase of the stormwater fund fee increase.

The second hearing of the budget and a public hearing will be May 28, and the third reading will be June 10.

So what was funded in the new budget?

Tax increase

Lancaster County homeowners will see their property taxes go up for fiscal year 2019-2020.

The county proposes a millage increase of 7.75. One mill equals $1 for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Under the fiscal year 2018-2019 county millage rate of 105.9, a homeowner who lives in a house worth $169,000 would have owed a gross property tax of $715.88. Under the new millage rate of 113.65, the same homeowner would owe a gross tax of $768.27.

That money would go to the general fund, capital improvement fund, county debt, USC-L and courthouse security.

County employees

The original budget proposal for fiscal year 2019-2020 includes a 2.5% cost of living adjustment for employees salaries.

The budget includes money to pay for a $500 holiday bonus for all full-time employees and part-time employees working more than 20 hours a week.

Fee changes

The budget proposal increases several fees, including road improvement fees and recreation rentals.

The new county road improvement and maintenance fee would be $35 per vehicle, up from $30.

The residential stormwater fee per equivalent residential unit would be increased to $75 from $60.

And gym facility rentals would change. Andrew Jackson, Indian Land, Buford and Springdale Recreation Centers would all move to the same fee schedule across the board. For an all day regular gym rental, the new fee for all recreation centers would be $750, up from $600 at Andrew Jackson and Indian Land.

The public swim family season pass would increase to $150 from $100 per family.

A single parcel rezoning application would increase to $325 from $250.

For more changes in fees, see the budget proposal.

New or expanded positions

Some positions in county government were funded by grants that have now expired, according to Willis’ first proposal. Several positions funded by grants will be retained under the county’s budget, including:

  • Four sheriff’s office traffic unit deputies — $39,015
  • Sheriff’s office domestic violence investigator — $45,000
  • Sheriff’s office general investigator — $44,000
  • Fire and rescue recruitment and retention officer — $45,000
  • Veteran’s Affairs part-time clerk — $14,040

Other positions are new and will be paid for under the 2019-2020 budget proposal, including:

  • Development Services Director — $103,640 salary, half-year position
  • Finance department budget analyst — $55,000 salary
  • Two information technology technicians — $37,660 and $37,659 salaries
  • Junior server administrator — $45,000 salary
  • Elections/voter registration deputy director —$42,000 salary
  • Coroner’s office deputy coroner — $37,500 salary
  • Two magistrate’s court constables — $37,500 salaries
  • Two detention center correctional officers — $34,800 salaries
  • Emergency management part-time emergency planner — $3,500 salary
  • Three paramedics — $33,000 salaries, half-year positions
  • Maintenance technician in building maintenance — $34,183 salary
  • Project and facilities manager — $80,000 salary
  • Public services, road crew worker — $14,960
  • Animal shelter veterinary technician — $38,000 salary
  • Parks and Recreation program supervisor — $33,000 salary
  • Zoning assistant — $30,000 salary

The budget also includes money to change one part-time paramedic to full-time, and the Parks and Recreation Indian Land site supervisor to full-time.

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Hannah Smoot reports on money and power for The Herald, covering York, Lancaster and Chester counties. She has been a reporter at The Herald since June 2017. Contact Hannah at 803-329-4068, hgsmoot@heraldonline.com or follow her on Twitter @hgsmoot.