County distributes fuel tax revenue

The Warren County Commissioners approved allocation of liquid fuels fund and signed off on a number of agreements at their meeting Wednesday morning.

The commissioners approved allocation of county-level liquid fuels funds to the municipalities in the county.

The $155,000 in total allocations are in addition to liquid fuels funds allocated to the municipalities directly by the state. The allocation an individual municipality receives is based on miles of roadway in the municipality and population. The county reserves some funds for potential emergencies.

“All of the municipalities are listed here including the City of Warren, the boroughs and townships,” Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said. “There’s other allocations that they get directly. (County Chief Clerk) Pam (Matve) administers this annually.”

An agreement to continue the county’s employee assistance wellness management program was approved. The program is a contracted general health service focusing on wellness for county employees and their families.

“This agreement is in the amount of $4,373.38,” Commissioner John Bortz noted. “A number of employees utilize these service.”

The renewal continues the program through the end of February 2015.

A cooperative agreement between municipal and county law enforcement agencies was approved.

“This is just a cooperative agreement,” Vanco said. “It’s not financial.”

“It just says they’ll work with one another,” Commissioner John Bortz agreed.

The agreement is between the Warren County’s District Attorney and Sheriff’s offices, the Forest County Sheriff’s office and the City of Warren, Youngsville Borough and Conewango Township police departments.

“Long story short, there will be a commitment of county resources,” Bortz said, “either personnel or equipment from time to time.”

An agreement for tutoring services for Forest-Warren Human Services with Ghazal-Majidi-Weese was also approved.

An addendum to an agreement with law firm Alaskey & Busch was approved. The addendum will increase the allowed billable hours in the contract between the county and the firm.

“[They are] going to use up the allocation hour-wise if we don’t do this,” Vanco noted.

“We have to do this from time to time,” Bortz added, “depending on the workload in the courts. I don’t see any reason to hold up.”

Certification of funds to be rolled over from the clean and green program was also approved.

Interest collected on the clean and green funds is rolled over back into the state’s farmland preservation program.

Farmland preservation funds are used toward purchase of conservation easements.

Clean and green, a component of the farmland preservation program, is a tax preference program aimed at encouraging preservation of farm, forest and open space land. Through the program, property taxes are based on land use value, rather than on fair market value.

A property approved for the clean and green program must not change from approvable use for a seven-year enrollment period. Properties that do change usage are subject to a levy of the difference between the taxes they would have paid if not enrolled and the taxes they actually did while in the program plus six percent interest. That interest is rolled back into the farmland preservation program.

The commissioners certified a total of $9,119 for rollback.

“Any interest that is collected on the clean and green rollback is designated to go to that organization (the farmland preservation program),” Vanco noted. “This year, it was significant. This gets sent into the state… $8,000 will be used in a possible easement purchase.”

“Did we get a big chunk of change somewhere?” Eggleston asked.

“That was the properties in Spring Creek,” Vanco replied, referring to a property that dropped out of the program.

“Typically, this thing runs in the hundreds of dollars,” Eggleston noted, “not the thousands of dollars.”

Vanco said the funds will be matched by the state, but that the match ratio is uncertain.

“The $8,000 will be submitted and it will be matched by the state at some number,” Vanco said. “It has been from a one-to-one match to a six-to-one match over the years. We don’t know.”

The commissioners also made three appointments.

Ann Ferguson and Gretchen Winans were appointed to the Warren General Hospital Association and Carl Strand was appointed to the Warren County Redevelopment Authority.