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Hearings on county spending plan continue

Day two of the county’s budget hearings saw a couple capital requests but — on the whole — little year-over-year change.

Eric Hern, the county’s director of finance and administration, noted that revenue dropped out of the prothonotary’s office.

Prothonotary Jennifer Phillips indicated that was due to attorney’s office in being shut down for a period as well as a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said that likely means that the revenue didn’t go away but would rather be delayed.

Treasurer Denny Munksgard also projected lower revenue — about $3,000 — but for non-COVID-19 related reasons.

He highlighted lifetime dog licenses that decrease revenues over the year as well as decreases in hunting.

“Over the years it has been declining,” Munksgard said. “The Game Commission is trying to find different ways” to boost those numbers. “The younger generations coming in and the older generation aging out… (it’s) just not what it used to be back in the day.”

Munksgard also pitched the idea of an ATM for the courthouse.

He said it has been hard to find options without being able to estimate the number of monthly transactions. The other option is to purchase and maintain a machine.

“I can think of quite a few of the offices that would probably find that handy,” Kafferlin said.

Munksgard said the other option would be for departments to share the credit card processing system he uses.

“(This is) something we should keep discussion (on) going forward,” he said.

Coroner Melissa Zydonik made two capital requests — a transport van and a body cooler.

Zydonik told the commissioners that she has no storage facility and is “at the mercy” of Warren General Hospital at times when a body needs to be held.

“They have limited space,” she added, explaining that it can, at times, take an “extended amount of time” to notify next of kin.

She said the stainless cooler would be 8×10 feet or 10×10 feet and could be stored inside or outside, only being utilized when needed.

Kafferlin suggested this may be the year to purchase such equipment, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic flares this call.

“(It) was one of those things we did see happening in other counties,” he said. “I think it’s a perfectly legitimate” CARES Act expense.

Zydonik said that grant funds generated by drug death reporting data could be used for the purchase.

For several years — and under multiple coroners — the office has been requesting a transport vehicle.

Currently, the county pays for transport when it’s unclear which funeral home will be handling the body.

The commissioners asked Zydonik to prepare a maintenance estimate for the body cooler.

“(I) worry more about the liability and maintenance than anything else” with these two requests, Durbin said.

For elections, Elections Director Lisa Rivett said there would be an increase in postage requested due to mail-in ballot shipment as well as the need to send applications to those who selected to be on the permanent mail-in list.

No significant year-over-year operational budget changes were reported for several departments including the Prothonotary, Tax Claim, Register & Recorder, auditors and coroner.

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