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Counties Brace For Possible Losses As Budget Impasse Wears On

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Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
The Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh.

With talk swirling of possible spending freezes over the unbalanced state budget, counties are trying to figure out how they may be impacted.

County commissioners are beginning to put together contingency plans in case any of their state funds get cut off.

Governor Tom Wolf has already stopped some spending to put it into budgetary reserves, and indicated this week that more could be coming.

Doug Hill, executive director of the state County Commissioner’s Association, said counties haven’t been affected yet. But he added, if the last budget impasse is any indication, things could easily get dicey again.

“For the time being counties are in a good position, but ultimately if there’s not an adequate revenue package, we’re concerned where they might need to cut in order to bring the budget into balance,” he said.

He said they’re trying to plan for possible cuts by doing what’s essentially triage.

“Basically it is to assess which client bases are going to be the first in need of help,” he said. “It also can include holding off on staffing.”

Hill said when the state reduces its payments to counties, it quickly depletes reserves, and can force commissioners to delay or halt provider payments.