MAYVILLE - Day two of the County Legislature's budget review produced another possible change to the county executive's 2012 proposal.
On the docket Tuesday were all the county departments which fall under the purview of the legislature's Administrative Services Committee.
In the morning, committee members met with Joseph Porpiglia, the county's human resources director. Following that meeting, the committee proposed increasing the fee which the county charges for its civil service exams.
Members of the Administrative Services Committee listen as County Attorney Steve Abdella answers questions.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
"We had met twice previously with Mr. Porpiglia on the civil service exams," said Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, of the ongoing committee work. Barmore serves as chairman of the Administrative Services Committee in addition to working as majority leader.
"We lose about $10,000 a year and so we discussed with him whether we should raise the rates," Barmore said of the fee change. "A motion was made to double the fees from $10 to $20 and it was seconded and it passed committee."
Having been passed by one of the legislature's five home committees, the proposal will now go to the Audit and Control Committee for final consideration on Friday - as will a resolution passed Monday by the Public Safety Committee.
"I think the general consensus is that after 20 years, it's time to get fees more in line with our real costs," Barmore said of his committee's proposal.
The proposed fee increase will not affect everyone though, Barmore pointed out.
"New York state has passed a law that anyone who is unemployed or indigent can take a test for free," Barmore said. "Also, most of the tests that are given are for current employees of the county, the cities or the towns who are seeking promotions. And so what's $20 if it means you might get a promotion with an additional pay raise."
AUDIT AND CONTROL
Audit and Control is the committee tasked with balancing all of the changes to the tentative 2012 budget.
Before the budget can go to the full legislature for vote, Audit and Control Committee members must make sure it adds up correctly. At the final Audit and Control Committee meetings, which happen this Friday and on Oct. 20, the committee members can integrate the proposed changes into the budget or reject them. Even if ideas are rejected, however, individual legislators can still propose them on the floor at the body's Oct. 26 budget vote.
"We have a few motions that we will have to study Friday," said Jay Gould, R-Ashville, who chairs the Audit and Control Committee.
Gould also said the committee expects more proposals to be made, as more committees meet today - specifically the Human Services Committee which deals with Youth Bureau, Veterans Services, Public Health, Probation, Office For The Aging, the County Home and more.
"It just amazes me though," Gould said, changing topics. "They have worked eight months on this budget and we have five days to study it before we get to budget hearings. That's a real problem. It's very educational, the budget hearings, and I'm still learning, but I would like to see us at least get a couple weeks to look at the budget."
"It would be nice if the county executive would release the budget to us two weeks before we had to do it," Barmore added.
"It's very, very hard," Gould said of the current budget structure, in which he and other legislators have been working in for years.
It has gotten somewhat easier throughout the years though, Gould admitted - adding that some changes have been made, such as Audit and Control's daily participation in the budget review.
Also on the Audit and Control Committee's agenda for Friday will be a review of the finances related to the county's Department of Motor Vehicles locations.
Allegedly, during the course of the county executive's budget preparations, Greg Edwards asked for information on the possibility of closing one of the county's DMV offices. Though the idea was not a part of the tentative 2012 budget proposal, legislators would like to see the financial analysis.
"Not to say that it will happen, but at least we'll have the figures in front of us," said John Runkle, R-Stockton, who serves on the Audit and Control Committee. "Those are exactly the types of things that we should be looking at."
Gould and Barmore pointed out that each of the county's three DMV locations not only generate revenue, but produce enough money to offset the cost of their operations.
"Still, we've asked for it," Barmore said of the financial information. "They're going to have it together for Friday for the Audit and Control Committee."