Courthouse Square

Observer-Reporter

Washington County’s Courthouse Square office building

The typical Washington County property owner may be more concerned this time of year about budgeting for holiday gift-giving than reading about Washington County’s annual budget, but the latest version of the 2019 spending plan contains a line item even a grinch would love: no tax increase.

Millage on property taxes will remain at 2.43 for 2019.

The heart of the Grinch grew three sizes, but next year’s Washington County budget decreased by $3 million from preliminary to posted phases.

Call it cutting the fat or whittling the Christmas wish list, but the posted $95,815,748 general fund budget has been slenderized.

“Some of the budgeted costs were inflated,” said county Finance Director Joshua Hatfield.

“I’ve been given no indication there’s going to be a tax increase, nor would I anticipate there being one.”

Most county employees, including those who are salaried and members of the Service Employees International Union Local 668; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Pennsylvania State Social Services Union will be paying 121/2 percent of the cost of health insurance.

The county is awaiting word on contracts with unions representing corrections officers, sheriff’s deputies and assistant public defenders and district attorneys, but rates with Highmark won’t be increasing.

Not yet known are the costs of new voting machines and the amount the county will be spending for “facility repairs/improvements” for the courthouse’s new judge to be seated in 2020.

“As of right now, we have only estimated costs,” Hatfield said. “There are no hard costs yet.”

The commissioners are scheduled to adopt a final budget at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, their last meeting of the year.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer Barbara S. Miller is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College. She covers Washington County government, courts and general assignments.

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