Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ron Angle: County Taxes to Double in Next Five Years

Last night, Lehigh County adopted its 2009 budget. Here in The People's Republic of Northampton County, we're just getting started, and had our first budget hearing on Tuesday, two hours of numbers. The county's proposed budget is available online, and you can review it here.

"I don't see anything good" is how the Northampton County Bulldog, Ron Angle, started things off. As a result of state and federal cutbacks, the county's annual contribution to the Gracedale Nursing Home will skyrocket from $381,000 to $6.9 million. The county's contribution to the retirement fund will shoot up from $2.4 million to $5.1 million, and according to Angle, it actually needs a cash infusion of $50 million. Personnel costs have also increased a staggering $6 million.

While county expenses go up, revenues have, at best, remained flat.

After reviewing the cold reality, Angle goes on to predict that our taxes will double in five years unless "extreme measures" are taken. But where? The Stoffa budget proposes cuts in general government (-15.3%), public works (-14.6%) and human services (-2.9%). Only the courts and prisons show a modest increase (+4.6%).

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa told Angle he believes that other counties facing the same problem should unite and pressure Harrisburg to increase funding. Angle thinks that's unlikely. Just last week, state representative Craig Dally told the Pen Argyl Area Concerned Citizens that the state government has $300 million less in the till than it should have at this time of the year. Some believe next year's shortfall could be as high as $3 billion, which will certainly mean a reduction in pass trough money. Counties will be forced to decide whether to cut programs that residents have been using or come up with local tax dollars to cover for the state.

Neither choice is very appealing.

I have at least one idea, which I'll explain below. You may have some, too.

26 comments:

Joe Hilliard said...

Wake up all.

Government is living beyond its means. It is that simple.

All levels of government, and both parties, have been living on credit cards for far too long.

Reality DEMANDS that government focus on its PRIORITIES - not the "it would be really nice to ____".

The bills are coming due. We have to face reality.

"Facts are stubborn things." - John Adams

Anonymous said...

What do you suggest the county "defund" - human services? the prison? employees?

Anonymous said...

The Gracedale actual budget is much lower than 6 million. Check what they budgeted last year and what they will actually spend at the end of 08.
It is one palce he hides money.

Anonymous said...

Time to defund human services. People need to solve their problems on their own. This is probably the only period in mankind existence where someone could go to the government for hand outs and child support etc... and be given money to live a lavish lifestyle. Fund the prison and courts. Thats it.

Anonymous said...

I thought the state and county were being run responsibly. Bob Freeman and Craig Dally keep telling me what a great job they've done. Bob thinks Rendell is the best thing since sex and the air conditioner. Ds on council swept to victory last time, and would again, if an election were held today. They've been saying they're doing a good job. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Defund human services? Most Human service funding is reimbursed by the State. County only pays a small percentage except in Aging and possibly Drug and alcohol. I'm not sure how much of gracedale's money is reimbursed but I'd imagine much of it is.. It's the ridiculous and lavish spending on court services that hammer the counties. Also corrections..Did you ever walk into a courtroom and notice all the sheriff deputies mulling around. Do we need 5 deputies in every courtroom?

Anonymous said...

Defund human Services? How do kids who are being abused fend for themselves?? Ridiculous. Starting this ridiculous health department is one real bad idea! The casino monies should be used for Human Service costs not some stupid health department. County cannot afford it. They shouldn't even go there!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The Gracedale actual budget is much lower than 6 million. Check what they budgeted last year and what they will actually spend at the end of 08.
It is one palce he hides money."


Bullshit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:56,

Instead of pointing the finger, how about a few solutions? What's your answer, hot shot?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Time to defund human services. People need to solve their problems on their own."

So let me get this strasight. When some step gather decides to start putting is cigarettes out on a 7 year old boy's arm, we 're supposed to send that kid right back to him with a sermon telling him to figure it out.

When some 4 year old girl has boiling water poured all over her, we do nothing to stop the abuse?

MT said...

I cannot access the budget, only the first page.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MT,

It's a big file and takes some time to download, depending on your internet connection. I use a dial up and have to wait forever. But it's there.

MT said...

I cannot access the budget, only the first page.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It just loaded for me.

Joe Hilliard said...

What to defund?

How many bureaucrats are really needed?

Gee, the entire western civilization will collapse without "Treevitalize".

How about the Rail Study? If Mr. Marin, a Wall St financier wants to start a railroad company, let him do it the old fashioned way and not shake down taxpayers.

I am sure that many, many more cuts could be identified that would cause Norco to collapse into anarchy and into third world status.

Are you saying that government is 100% efficient and that EVERY SINGLE THING it does is vital?

Anonymous said...

government should do less and be smaller. a government that can't properly fix potholes is the same one so many want to tackle far more complex issues. it's wishful, but poor thinking. angle laid out the choices. government growth goes unabated and we pay a lot more for it, or government is made smaller and does less with less. angle is outnumbered and not taken seriously. the trend is back to nanny state government. everybody should expect the care they want from government to be rationed and far more expensive.

as for pointing fingers, i say point, point, point. those who don't want fingers pointed are usually the ones who got us into the mess. self-assessment is critical to improvement. i say we look at those who were supposed to be properly stewarding taxpayer money. freeman and dally have been glued top their seats and should be held responsible - despite their claims of do-gooding to the contrary. i say point lots of fingers, identify the irresponsible and vote them the hell out. i know. i know. they're from the government and they're here to help.

Anonymous said...

Hey Boonie, name one thing, other than the rail study, that Angle would vote to cut.

Anonymous said...

What about the Hay study? Wasn't that a waste of money? Is it true that the county paid thousands of dollars for a study that was conducted by a panel of county employees? The study that was released so far was for non union employees, and some of them (not all) are to get some hefty raises. The union employees study hasn't been revealed yet. Who knows what the "panel" will come up with for them. I'm sure the figures won't even come close for that group.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa and Sutton-Falk were called Turkeys by the Express Times for the way they mishandled the Hay Study - which Angle was a big supporter of.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Hey Boonie, name one thing, other than the rail study, that Angle would vote to cut."

Angle will proposes cuts, as he does every year. He will be ignored, as he is every year. And eventually, taxes will go up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The hay study is irrelevant to this discussion, but I do plan to write about it. I do know that the state uses the Hay group and the county followed the instructions of that group. The mistake the county made was in releasing the study without having someone from hay discuss it and what it means. It recommends pay hikes for 94% of the nonunion force. It raises everyone above the poverty level. It does not rercommend freezing the wages of the county's moist valuable emplyees. It is long overdue.

I don't think the county can propose anything for union workers. That's a subject of negotiation.

Anonymous said...

It was inappropriate for County employees to be the panel studying raises. They gave themselves all raises.
These are highly unqualified people, just Stoffa hacks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Like I said, I will wait to see what hay says before jumping to any conclusions. But I'm not playing political games like you.

Anonymous said...

yes.. everyone is going broke, except for Wallstreet. They just found 700 billion plus in their back pocket. Now today an entire bunch of other companies, banks insurance, manufactures,(10/25/08) are wanting to get on the free gravy train. Next will be all these employee pension plans that get dumped on the federal government FDIC and all the while the plans are being robbed by those in charge of them because they now know there is a big bailout just waiting for them. They are licking their chops waiting for this "Free" bailout.

Dave said...

Gonna get worse before it gets better. State funding sources are drying up and that gets passed down the line to the counties. We're all in trouble here and real solutions are needed..not political rhetoric and finger pointing! We need ideas.. people..not the same old same old!

Anonymous said...

Ah come on we all know MONEY GROWS ON TREES.. Please keep spending, growing and Taxing.. and above ignore reality and facts.. And What is wrong with a cut off the TOP?