Tuesday, April 13, 2010

County Must Address Short Term Funding Issues

In releasing his annual financial report, Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty says the county can't keep relying on one-time revenue sources to balance the operating budget. Flaherty says the non-repeatable income totaled $35.2 million in 2009, up from $9.4 million in 2005 but down from a high of $41.8 million in 2007. The one-time sources included the sale of the county-owned One Smithfield Building for $11.4 million and a final payment of $10 million dollars for the hosting of a casino.
"I again emphasize the critical importance of long-term planning to reverse the trend of using one-time revenues."
Flaherty says officials must develop long-range plans to address short term issues such as the reliance on one-time sources and the struggle to get revenues to balance the expenditures in the budget, or there will be long-term financial troubles.
Flaherty says he does not support tax hikes in this economy but council and the county executive have to devise plans to increase revenues or cut costs.
He says the county's largest program deficits continue to be unfunded mandates such as the Child Support Enforcement Program subsidy and costs related to Children, Youth and Family services.
"They always start out fully funded but over the years they (state and federal government) find a way to cut funding but still require us to keep the programs."

Flaherty says the county must also come up with a way to make the Kane Regional Hospitals more efficient because expenditures exceeded revenues by $4.9 million last year.

Flaherty did note that the county's reserve fund increased by $700,000 last year to $19.5 million but that's still $15 million short of the recommended 5% of the total operating budget.

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