Centre County Youth Service Bureau feeling financial pinch

The Centre County Youth Service Bureau is feeling the pinch of the state budget impasse as it heads into December and kicks off one of its yearly giving programs.

YSB CEO Andrea Boyles spoke Tuesday to county commissioners about its annual Christmas Crusade for Kids, teaming up with Magnum Broadcasting to provide presents for needy children in the county. This marks the fifth year for the program.

Magnum manager Jerry Fisher said the program serves more than 400 children identified by the YSB as kids in need. Children ask for certain items, and radio listeners have the opportunity to sponsor a child by purchasing an item and dropping it off at a sponsor location.

The bottom line is it will make Christmas better for 400 kids and families.

Jerry Fisher, Magnum Broadcasting manager

The program airs on Magnum stations WBLF 970 AM and WQCK 103.1 FM, he said.

Boyles said the agency is feeling the budgetary hit in terms of county contracts. While Centre County money is still coming in, the YSB is losing money through boys and girls from neighboring counties who live in group homes.

Other counties aren’t able to make payments, she said, as the agency has more than $100,000 in receivables on hold until the impasse is over.

The YSB is also taking a hit in terms of private dollars as well, she said. The agency receives funds through an educational improvement tax dollar credit program that benefits businesses in the county.

Businesses are able to give money to charities in lieu of corporate taxes, she said. Because the budget hasn’t passed, letters haven’t gone out authorizing that money, so the agency hasn’t received any.

“I assume if the budget doesn’t come in by Dec. 31, that money will be lost forever,” Boyles said, “because it’s a tax year benefit to the companies.”

The agency is part of the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services, she said, and participated in filing a suit against the state. The council stated that child welfare services ought to be on the essential services list and funded during the impasse.

However, the council lost an emergency hearing about two weeks ago, she said. Weighing the cost of continuing legal action, they will likely not be moving forward.

The YSB depends on private dollars, she said, and noted that the residents of Centre County continue to step up in their generosity, particularly through programs like the Christmas Crusade for Kids.

We are fortunate to be in Centre County where people are incredibly giving.

Andrea Boyles, YSB CEO

In other business, commissioners tabled the approval of a tentative 2016 budget for the county as Commissioner Michael Pipe was not in attendance. Adoption will be scheduled for the next weekly meeting on Dec. 8, meaning commissioners will have to approve the budget on Dec. 29.

Chairman Steve Dershem said the budget will likely have to be adjusted throughout the year since several guesses had to be made without a state budget in place.

Dershem also said no discussion has been made regarding the county seeking a loan or some financial aid due to the impasse. Hopefully, he said, a more robust discussion can be held next week when all three commissioners are in attendance.

Commissioners have noted in the past that the county would likely be financially solvent until sometime in December.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews