MAYVILLE - Significant changes were made to the county's tentative 2012 budget by lawmakers Friday.
The document, however, is still very much a work in progress.
As proposed by the county executive last month, the tentative budget featured a 12.67 percent tax increase. Through a total of four changes made by the Audit and Control Committee on Friday, legislators were able to drop that increase by 5.66 percent - to a total increase of 7.01 percent over the 2011 budget.
County Executive Greg Edwards discusses the tentative 2012 budget Friday with John Gullo, D-Fredonia, and Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
Of the four changes made Friday, only one actually cuts the budget. The other three use money available to the county to drive down the tax levy and defer payments due in 2012 to 2013.
The one actual cut approved by the committee was to the Human Services area of the budget, reducing money earmarked for the housing of juvenile delinquents by $200,000. That cut drops the 2012 budgeted amount for the housing of juvenile delinquents from $1.2 million to $1 million.
A total of 10 other proposals to change the budget were also voted on by Audit and Control, but all saw majority opposition from the seven member committee.
Under the county executive's proposal, the 2012 budget would have taken the rate per thousand from $8.90 to $10.03 - for an increase of $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. As changed Friday, the 2012 budget now raises taxes by 62 cents per $1,000 - for a total tentative rate of $9.52 in 2012.
Similarly the levy is now set to increase by 7.13 percent in the newly changed budget. Under the county executive's proposal, the 2012 levy was set to increase 12.79 percent from the 2011 total of $59,433,131.
Despite the changes made by the committee, the tentative 2012 budget still exceeds the state's tax cap limit by $2,016,997.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Work on the county's 2012 budget is far from finished.
The changes made by the Audit and Control Committee on Friday are not set in stone.
All of the legislature's standing committees will meet later this month. At those meetings, the committees can still propose changes to the tentative budget, with Audit and Control members meeting Thursday, Oct. 20, to consider additional changes. From that meeting, Audit and Control will pass a final budget proposal to the full legislature for vote - though legislators will still be able to propose changes at their Oct. 26 meeting.
In addition to decreasing the amount budgeted for the housing of juveniles in 2012, the Audit and Control Committee made three other changes Friday. As a result of a 6 to 1 vote by the committee, the county will take $1.7 million from the county landfill's fund balance for use by the county in 2012. The county landfill is one of the county's several enterprise agencies.
The third change the committee made Friday was to defer $280,000 in payments to 2013, thereby not paying them in 2012. The payments are "M Fund" payments which the county is repaying from when it self-funded health insurance.
The fourth and final change made to the budget Friday reduces the tax levy by $1.1 million. The committee proposal accomplishes the decrease by changing the way in which capital projects will be funded in 2012.
Several of the 10 defeated proposals were to add items back into the budget.
"I don't feel we should put anything back into the budget," said Jay Gould, R-Ashville, during discussion of a possible change which was defeated
Gould chairs the Audit and Control Committee. After the meeting, he said the committee's changes were about average for the annual budget review process - which usually sees several changes to the county executive's proposal.
"We shifted some money," Gould said, "but there will be more discussions - although I tried to do a lot of it in here rather than on the floor. That was my goal. And we'll see if I was successful or not."