The county commissioners passed Thursday the 2021 budget with no new tax increases.

The 2021 budget is $86.3 million, down from the $86.8 million 2020 budget by one-half of a percent. The passed budget allows the current county tax millage rate to remain at 3.2925 percent for fiscal year 2021.

That means a homeowner would pay about $33.00 in property taxes for every $1,000 of assessed value on their home. It was noted during the meeting that the millage rate has not increased since 2016.

The budget decreased primarily because a number of capital improvement projects conducted in 2020 will not reoccur in 2021, according to Jamie Wolgemuth, Chief Clerk/County Administrator.

In other county business, the commissioners approved, by a 2-1 vote, to pay the final invoices related to the county’s $12.8 million CARES Act funding.

The final payment of CARES funding, which must occur by Dec. 30, 2020, included $750 for the Mask Up campaign and an additional $19,100 to various mental health providers as reimbursements for expenditures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote passed 2-1 with Commissioner Bill Ames voting no, as he has done at past meetings on all invoices related to Mask Up.

Ames’ vote is in opposition to the mandate by the Wolf administration withholding the $12.8 million in funding unless the county conducted a public relations campaign to promote the use of face masks as part of a settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Ames, who refused to sign the settlement reached with the state, has consistently disapproved of paying expenditures for the Mask Up campaign while being supportive of covering costs associated with reimbursements to the more than 600 area businesses that received $10 million in CARES Act funding.

During public comment, Lebanon County Republican Committee member Bill Dougherty followed up on a previous request and as part of a Right to Know request he filed with the county to obtain information related to the pre-election testing of voting machines on Oct. 17 for the Presidential portion of the General Election.

During the course of the discussion, it was pointed out that the PDF he received did not include the second, or reverse side, of the scanned report, which happened to include the information on the Presidential results.

In another matter, Dougherty asked the commissioners to have the elections bureau examine why the number of votes in the reconciliation did not reconcile with the number of people who voted in the election.

Doughtery said there were 536 more votes cast than registered voters in Lebanon County. The reconciliation matter was not resolved since Michael Anderson, who is the director of the elections bureau, was not in attendance at this meeting.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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