York County commissioners: We need a state budget on time

Greg Gross

The York County commissioners are calling on state lawmakers to have a budget not only passed but signed into law on time this year.

The public showing comes less than two months after the protracted state budget impasse mercifully came to a close. The state is to have a budget enacted by June 30 of each year.

"We want to be proactive instead of reactive," Susan Byrnes, the president commissioner, said.

The impasse over the 2015-16 budget ended in March when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced he would allow a budget the General Assembly sent to him to become law without his signature. In December, he released some much-needed funding by signing a partial budget.

Impasse impact: But the impasse left a trail of debt and increased costs in its wake.

Counties across the state were forced to borrow money during the impasse to cover costs and pay employees. Thirty percent of the state's 67 counties had to borrow funds, and 70 percent drew down their cash reserves, costing them an average of $18,000 in lost interest, according to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Others had to put off paying vendors, delay major expenditures, impose hiring freezes and/or curb services, the association said.

York County had to take out a $20 million line of credit in the fall to cover costs.

The county completely drew down the line of credit. It made good on repaying the loan in January, but the fiscal damage was done.

The county incurred roughly $33,000 in interest and bank and legal fees associated with the loan, and it was issued a higher interest rate, amounting to an added $5,000 in costs, when it took out a $25 million Tax Revenue Anticipation Note in December.

"It does affect the credit rating," Byrnes said of the impasse-caused $20 million loan. "So that could be detrimental."

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.