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On the PULSE

Lycoming County’s 2020 budget proposal went public on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in conjunction with the county’s new OpenGov software. 

This will be the county’s first public use of the software since it was purchased for nearly $60,000 per year in early October. The software was proposed both as a method to provide more fiscal transparency to county finances and to offer departments with a more intuitive method for building their individual budgets and tracking expenses. 

The county information services and the fiscal department are down to the wire on finishing the budget and rolling out the new software, according to Matt McDermott, director of administration/chief clerk for the county, during a meeting Thursday between the county and OpenGov. But all the departments agreed they would be ready to go public on the 19th. 

While the new software will allow visitors to see the proposed expenses and revenue by department, it will not yet be able to show where funding comes from for county salaries, according to Beth Johnston, Fiscal Services director, at the meeting. Salaries for employees often are split between county property taxes and state and federal grant money.

“That’s a hard number to grasp,” agreed Brandy Clemens, deputy director of fiscal services. “It’s kind of just sprinkled everywhere … When that revenue comes in, it all goes into one account.” 

This means it’s difficult to determine how much of the salary is covered, she said.

McDermott said showing funding sources for salaries should be a future goal for the county. 

“I think that’s something to shoot for in 2020 …. How do we set up OpenGov’s budget module to be able to reflect that.” said McDermott. “Because then that’s going to give a much more accurate picture of what the true cost to operate that department is.” 

McDermott added that the county should determine which positions in the county are 100% grant funded.  

Modifications can be made to the software as the county moves forward, according to McDermott. He also added that the current online version should not be used as the official, or legal, source for the budget data. This can still be found with Fiscal Services official budget, which will be printed out and distributed on Tuesday. 

The county commissioners will hold three public meetings this week to give an overview of the proposed budget and...

Read the whole story and see public meeting schedule on On the PULSE