County officials see slight silver lining in Pa. budget plan

    County officials across Pennsylvania say Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed cuts in state funding for Department of Public Welfare programs will hurt a little bit less if they have more control over how they spend those dollars.

    Although the governor’s plan is to basically flat-fund the Department of Public Welfare, programs administered by counties will see cuts of about 14 percent.

    But Corbett also has called for sending one lump sum to counties for seven different DPW programs.

    That will ease the pain of planned reductions, said Jo Ellen Litz, a Lebanon County Commissioner and head of the County Commissioners Association.

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    “If these different streamlining suggestions are incorporated, I can see where we would probably save that much money,” Litz said. “And so I don’t think that our clients would be hurting so bad. I think that they would still get the services.”

    The lump-sum approach would mean counties would not have to do what they call redundant paperwork, but they would still be accountable for the state funding they get.

    As it stands, Litz said, counties must return any unspent funding for certain DPW programs.

    Under Corbett’s plan to place several program funding line items into one category, the counties could use any leftover funds in one program to close a gap in another.

    Litz said the move also would allow counties to prioritize how they spend their appropriation.

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