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For the sixth consecutive year, real estate taxes will not rise for Cumberland County residents.

The county commissioners unanimously adopted a $311.6 million budget on Tuesday that maintains real estate millage at 2.195 mills, county spokeswoman Samantha Krepps said.

The separate library real estate tax remains at 0.166 mills.

The overall budget includes a $92.2 million general fund budget that is 5.1% larger than last year, an increase caused in part by health insurance and retirement increases and several one-time projects, according to county budget documents. The biggest new general fund expense is approximately $2 million to support the switch to the Project 25 radio system for emergency communications.

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The general fund budget uses more than $6.2 million of the county’s approximately $34.5 million fund balance to meet expenses, according to budget documents. However, the county expects to reduce that through long-term cost-saving measures it has implemented.

Cumberland County has avoided tax increases for six consecutive years by taking action to slow cost growth, along with the benefit of population growth and economic recovery, budget documents state.

“The commissioners, working with the county’s departments, have found ways to slow the growth of short- and long-term costs, without sacrificing services to county residents,” Krepps wrote in a news release.

There are challenges to maintaining a level tax rate, however. These include increases in child protective services cases, costs related to the opioid epidemic, the cost of death penalty and other murder prosecutions, and capital projects such as new state-mandated voting machines and the addition of a seventh Common Pleas Court, according to budget documents.

If no changes are made to cut expenses or increase revenue, the county’s fund balance would be cut in half by 2023, the county projects.

The budget was the last to be considered by Commissioner Jim Hertzler, who is retiring at the end of the term. Jean Foschi and incumbents Gary Eichelberger and Vince DiFilippo won seats in the November general election and will serve four-year terms as commissioners beginning in January.

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Daniel Walmer covers public safety for The Sentinel. You can reach him by email at dwalmer@cumberlink.com or by phone at 717-218-0021.

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