LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – When Lebanon was putting together its 2023 county budget, it faced deficits that it worked hard to overcome.
Now, prepping for budget conversations for 2024, it’s not getting any easier.
“Coming into 2024 I’m expecting that deficit to be even larger,” Lebanon County Administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said.
Wolgemuth says Children Youth Services is becoming a bigger part of the county’s expenses. It’s asking for a lot more money.
“The county is budgeted for 2024 at $2,850,000. That’s a 30% increase over the year before,” Wolgemuth said.
He says the county knows one big reason why that increase is.
“Foster parenting is decreasing. Those are wonderful people who provide us service invaluable to counties and the youth,” Wolgemuth said.
Without foster parents, Wolgemuth says, the county has to find space for children and teens in facilities or even detention centers.
That can cost upwards of $500 per child, per day. All paid for by the county.
The ballooning CYS budget makes it even harder for the county to focus on other essential needs. Many of which are also getting more and more expensive each year.
“I’m just not sure how we are going to make it through another budget season without looking for revenue somewhere else,” Wolgemuth said.