Chester County may cut workforce to help close budget gap

Chester County may trim its workforce more to help close a $5.2 million gap in its proposed 2011 budget, which was unveiled on the county website Tuesday.

The county did not raise taxes this year, but did increase them 4.2 percent for 2009.

The $427.8 million spending plan calls for nearly a 4 percent increase in taxes. Ten to 15 positions may be eliminated, said Mark J. Rupsis, chief administrative officer; he said he did not yet know which departments might be involved.

"We're still working on a lot of things," Rupsis said. Referring to possible layoffs, he said: "Those are not the only things we're working on."

He said 24 county positions, 19 of which had been vacant, were eliminated this year.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 in the County Courthouse. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the budget Dec. 21.

Among the increased expenses the county is facing are health-care costs and debt service on some of its capital projects, including the Justice Center and an expansion at the prison, Rupsis said.

The county is also paying for an expensive overhaul of its 911 communications system, a $95 million, five-year plan that began this year, Rupsis said. The upgrade will change the system from analog to digital, he said.

This year, the county laid off two workers each in the Health Department and at the library, and a worker in the Information Technology Department, Rupsis said. Other positions were eliminated through attrition.

If the three commissioners approve the full 3.9 percent tax increase currently proposed in the budget, it would add $25.90 to the bill of a taxpayer with the median assessed home value of $166,000, Rupsis said.


Contact staff writer Joelle Farrell at 610-627-0352 or jfarrell@phillynews.com.