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County News & Press Releases

Posted on: December 20, 2023

Commissioners Approve 2024 Operating Budget

A building, a monument and a flag pole.

The Bucks County Commissioners today approved the County’s $486.8 million Operating Budget for 2024, including a slight tax increase that wipes out the County’s long-running structural deficit.   

The budget, which passed Wednesday in a 2-1 vote during the board’s regular public meeting, balances the County’s finances while fully funding the County’s many departments and services, including Courts and Row Offices, through the end of next year.  

Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie and Vice-Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia both voted in favor of the full budget package as recommended to the Board of Commissioners by Chief Financial Officer Dave Boscola.  

Commissioner Secretary Gene DiGirolamo voted against the budget as well as the tax, millage and fee schedules. He voted in favor of appropriations to County agencies and authorities.  

The two-mill tax increase included in the budget is expected to raise nearly $17 million annually while adding only about $60 to the average homeowner’s yearly tax bill.  

County property taxes last rose in the 2020 budget as adopted under the previous Administration, but the hike wasn’t enough to erase the deficit. The new increase is in line with findings from the County’s 2020 bipartisan Transition Team Report, which recommended a two-mill increase as a way to stabilize the County’s finances.  

Together with the County’s decreasing debt obligations, 2024’s modest increase should eliminate the need for additional tax hikes and stabilize finances at least through the end of the decade, said Commissioner Marseglia.

“We tried for a couple years to not deal with [the deficit] during COVID, because we knew people were stretched and they couldn’t afford to have a tax increase,” said Commissioner Marseglia. “Everybody knows we have a structural deficit. Everybody knows where it came from. We have the lowest debt ratio in the collar counties, and I believe we have done a really good job to keep this under $1.20 per week.”

The 2024 budget total reflects a 6.2 percent increase from 2023. In keeping with previous years, the bulk of the coming year’s allotments – about 75 percent – are earmarked for County departments providing public safety, public health services, mental health services and social services programs.  

Commissioner Harvie noted that previous Administrations patched budget gaps using the reserve fund – a practice this Administration ended in the interest of fiscal responsibility – and that today, the fund is as low as it can go without risking a credit rating downgrade.  

“In my 20 years as an elected official, I have never voted to raise property taxes, and since coming into these offices nearly four years ago we have worked incredibly hard to meet all the needs of our residents while not raising taxes. We have been able to accomplish this by using funding from the federal government, holding the line and even cutting expenses, and finding creative ways to generate revenue,” said Commissioner Harvie. “But the deficit we inherited will not go away just because we want it to.”  

Prior to implementing this increase, the County in the last four years has pursued multiple avenues to raise revenue, cut costs and increase efficiency throughout County government. These efforts have included merging departments, offloading costly assets and entering into a $24 million conservation easement. The County has also saved tens of millions through restructuring of the Law Department and aggressive settlement negotiation.  

Boscola, who leads the Finance Department in preparing the budget each year, thanked the Commissioners, Department Heads, Division Leaders, Court Administrators, Row Officers and his staff for their assistance and cooperation in compiling this year’s budget document.   

Prepared each year by the Finance Department for approval by the County Commissioners, the County’s operating budget includes funding for departments and agencies serving county residents including the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Behavioral Health/Developmental Programs, Board of Elections, Children & Youth Social Services Agency, Community Services, Corrections, Emergency Services, General Services, Health Department, Neshaminy Manor, Parks and Recreation and Veterans Affairs, among others.   

The County’s budget also provides funding for the courts and the County’s nine elected Row Offices, including the Clerk of Courts, Controller, Coroner, District Attorney, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Sheriff and Treasurer.   

The full 2024 operating budget can be viewed here.  

Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, jtomalley@buckscounty.org    

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