The Lancaster County commissioners unanimously passed the county’s 2023 budget Wednesday morning, authorizing a spending plan that, for the 10th year in a row, includes no tax increase.
The budget provides for $178.4 million in general fund spending and $110.1 million for the five funded agencies within county government: Behavioral Health/Developmental Services, Children & Youth, Domestic Relation, Drug & Alcohol and the Office of Aging. Their budgets come primarily from federal and state grants.
The county’s staffing framework remains unchanged, with no layoffs. The county’s tax rate remains at 2.911 mills, with 1 mill representing $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The last tax hike took effect in 2013; since then, the only change has been a decrease from 3.735 mills to the current 2.911 mills, to offset the countywide property reassessment. That adjustment took effect in 2018.
In comments made during a Dec. 6 budget hearing and posted on social media, Commissioner Josh Parsons touted the budget as reflective of a county government “that lives within its means and protects taxpayers.”
Besides the unchanged tax rate, he noted the county’s funding of infrastructure, including a countywide bridge replacement program and the upcoming prison project; the provision of a new, higher salary structure for county employees; farmland preservation; and the increase in the county’s reserves.
The county’s new salary structure is being implemented in three stages. Most county employees are receiving increases, with 50% coming Jan. 1, 25% mid-year, and the final 25% on Jan. 1, 2024.
The budget provides $3.7 million in grants to nearly a dozen outside entities, with the largest grant, just over $2 million, going to the Lancaster County library system.
One grant, $150,000 to the Lancaster Conservancy to help fund a 77-acre land purchase adjacent to the De Perrot Woods Nature Preserve, was made from American Rescue Plan Act funds. Three others, totaling $300,000, were made using funds received from the state’s natural gas impact fee distribution; the remainder are from the general fund.