COVID aid fills Blair’s coffers | News, sports, jobs

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HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County ended 2020 with just over $ 11 million in cash on hand for future use, the county’s latest audit shows.

The $ 11 million is about $ 6 million more than the comparable cash reserve reported in the 2019 audit, Young, Oakes, Brown & Co. auditor David Scott told commissioners Tuesday.

The improvement, Scott said, is due to the county receiving and using COVID-19 aids in 2020.

From an allocation of 11 million

She distributed the remainder of the $ 11 million allocation, including $ 2.76 million to small businesses and $ 2.23 million to communities, to offset her pandemic-related costs.

Scott said he reviewed the spending the county reported for its COVID-19 CARES allocation as part of what he said the county received $ 19 million in federal aid.

“We checked the COVID money and there were no problems with it at all.” said Scott.

If the county hadn’t received the COVID-19 money, 2020 would have been a balanced year for the county, Scott said outside of the commissioners’ meeting.

Despite the improvement in cash reserves, Scott said the audit also showed the county’s pension liabilities surge to a high of $ 91 million, a figure commission chairman Bruce Erb said was nearly two years old.

Erb said an updated number will come, possibly as early as next week’s district retirement committee meeting. He also pointed out to Scott that the $ 91 million calculation would not reflect a pension funding policy that the Pension Committee passed earlier this year. This guideline encouraged increasing the pension contribution by 5 percent or $ 250,000, whichever is lower.

When Scott filed a report on the 2019 audit in May 2020, Scott identified the county’s pension liabilities at $ 76.6 million. For 2018, he reported $ 74.8 million, which was recognized as an improvement from the high of $ 89 million in 2017.

The increase in the pension liability, Scott said, reflects the county’s continued inability to meet the recommended annual contribution.

Usually it’s $ 6.8 to $ 7 million.

The commissioners have steadily increased the overall fund contribution to the pension plan over the past few years – and earmarked $ 4.5 million for the fund in 2021. The pension fund also receives income from its investments and contributions from current employees.

Scott said he believes the increase in pension fund liabilities reflects an increase in benefits and future benefits will be paid to more people.

“I’m sure demographics are a factor because there are probably a lot more retirees out there.” said Scott.

Erb agreed and referred to the projected deficits in social security, which can be attributed to the increase in pension payments.

“It’s upside down,” said Erb.

“That’s the problem,” said Scott.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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