Thursday morning, Cumberland County Commissioners agreed to make next year's budget available to be viewed by the public.
As it stands, there is a $6,661,207 budget gap. The budget factors in a proposed change in tax rate from 1.902 mills to 2.131 mills, a 12 percent increase.
County Commissioner described the budget as a “bad situation.” Following Thursday's meeting, they said they feel they're on the “knife's edge of a potential crisis.
County employees will see a pay freeze, dozens of vacant county jobs will not be filled and, of course, residents will be faced with a 12 percent tax hike.
For a family with a home worth $180,000, which is the median property assessment in Cumberland County, the would pay an additional $41.38, which breaks down to less than a dollar extra per week.
Still, some county residents are faced with other tax increases. For example, Carlisle Borough residents could see a 7 percent property tax increase. They would also have to pay the county increases.
Commissioner Jim Hertzler said the increases are not something commissioners want to impose but, looking at the numbers, there doesn't seem to be another option.
“None of us want to raise taxes,” he said, “But in the same token, we can't turn the lights out in county government. We need to provide services.”
The budget uses reserve funds to cover part of the gap, but officials say the reserve fund is running out.
County officials say the budget gap is explained mostly by expenses related to the New Public Safety Department Building, and the expansion at the Cumberland County Prison.
The Public Safety Department Building played a key role in recent emergencies, including Hurricane Sandy, when the Emergency Operations Center was used around the clock.
Officials say the prison was expanded because the female inmate population had been near capacity.