The Cambria County commissioners say they’re ready to start “zero-based” budgeting – a new method of drawing up proposed budgets – for the 2013 version.
They have said that instead of working from the previous year’s budget lines, they will build a fiscal package from zero and examine all expenditures.
The commissioners will brief department supervisors and row officers on the process at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Courtroom No. 2. William Stasko, the county’s new part-time finance/budget director, and David Knepper, chief clerk, will take part in the briefing.
Jobs under scrutiny
In what could be a budget-related item, Commissioner Mark Wissinger said that the commissioners will take a close look at whether to eliminate the positions of the two part-time jury commissioners. A new state law allows counties to abolish the elected positions.
A decision has to be made by the end of the year on whether to eliminate the jobs because the positions are up for election in 2013.
A number of other counties have voted to abolish jury commissioners, including Clearfield County a week ago, Wissinger said.
Thomas Chernisky, who was a jury commissioner before taking office as county commissioner in January, has gone on record as opposing elimination of the jobs. He said the county has been waiting for a decision from the state Commonwealth Court on the legality of the law.
The State Association of Jury Commissioners contends in a lawsuit that the law illegally allows the executive branch of government to infringe on a court-related function.
The Cambria jury commissioners, Vickie Long and Helen Whiteford, each earn $11,400 a year plus benefits.
Interim position created
The commissioners, sitting as the salary board, voted to create an interim law librarian/jury commissioner assistant position at $26,899 a year to fill in for an employee on leave.
Controller Ed Cernic Jr., who sits on the salary board, dissented, saying that the salary is too high for an entry-level position.
Lynne Dougherty, a clerk-typist in the mental health office, was transferred into the interim position.
A motion by Cernic for the salary board to abolish the positions of assistant human resources director and assistant elections supervisor died for lack of a second. He recalled that the commissioners have talked about not filling those posts.
Taking those positions out of the budget would save more than $90,000 in salaries, plus benefits, Cernic said after the meeting.
Maintenance chief hired
A Jackson Township man was hired as the county’s director of maintenance and safety, a new position with an annual salary of $44,500 a year.
Darin Patrick Brown, the new director, had been the facility manager of the federal National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown since it opened in 1992. He also served as the safety manager, responsible for safety and environmental issues, at the now-closed federal facility.
The position had been part of the responsibilities of Fred R. Smith, who retired in June as both election supervisor and maintenance/safety director. His salary was $70,806.
Earlier this month, the commissioners hired Shirley Crowl as election supervisor at $40,000 a year.