Berks County looking at budget deficit in 2018

READING, Pa. - For the first time in five years, Berks County is facing recurring operating deficits, starting January 1, 2018. In other words, the cost of providing county programming and services on an annual basis is exceeding the available revenues. 

At Thursday morning’s commissioners’ meeting, Robert Patrizio Jr., the county's chief financial officer, discussed three factors impacting the county's budget: the state legislative and enacted budget, county decisions, and the proposed state budget.

Currently, the total impact of the state legislation and enacted budgets, which includes a decline in court reimbursement, senior judge reimbursements, and state technical parole violation revenue, is $5.2 million, which would require a 3.8 percent property tax increase.

The impact of county decisions, such as increased RACC support, increased solid waste/recycling support, and the addition of correctional officers, is $2.7 million, which would require a 1.94 percent property tax increase.

Patrizio said this would mean a total of a $7.9 million deficit that would require a 5.74 percent increase in the annual property tax. The impact of a 5.74 percent increase on city residents would be an average increase of $18 per year (based on an assessed property value of $41,395) and $46 per year for non-city residents (based on an assessed property value of $107,817).

The proposed FY17/18 state budget cuts, which include cuts to adult and juvenile probation services and county court reimbursements, would total $1.8 million and require a 1.31 percent property tax increase and would take Berks County’s deficit to $9.8 million and require a 7.05 percent tax increase.

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