County commissioner takes issue with human services funding in budget

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The partial budget Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday leaves a lot to be desired for some county governments.

Dauphin County commissioner George Hartwick walked us through why.

Without money from the state, counties focus on the things they can control. That’s why Hartwick spent the day at Children and Youth Services in Harrisburg helping clean up.

“We can only control the things that we are directly engaged with,” he said.

CYS has seen a greater caseload under new laws, he said, and the new budget doesn’t address that.

“We’re still here operating,” Hartwick said. “We’re still here trying to figure out the best ways that we can to protect and serve kids.”

He said re-balancing in the funding bill means less money for the agency; plus, it doesn’t restore cuts to human services block grants.

“Nor was there anything to address the borrowing cost or interest or penalties that are going to be a result of us having to figure out creative ways to keep government operating,” he said.

That’s a big one.

Some counties have borrowed money to get through the impasse. Without assurances of reimbursement that puts an extra burden on local governments.

Dauphin County hasn’t borrowed yet. It’s instead relied on a robust balance to keep services up and running. But now, that’s nearly gone.

“I think we’re close to $31 million,” Hartwick said.

If money doesn’t start flowing soon, Dauphin may have to borrow, too.

“I know we’ve got some assurances from the administration that the money will flow immediately,” he said, “but again, depending upon that timing, it’s still a matter of making some tough decisions if you don’t have the appropriate cash on hand.”

“Regardless of what happens, we figure out ways to serve clients,” he added.

And that, Hartwick said, makes it easier for the state to drag its feet on human services funding.

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