MAYVILLE - The County Legislature's budget work Wednesday resulted in an additional 18 cents being trimmed off the 2012 property tax rate.
As it stands, next year's budget now features a 32-cent increase over the county's current property tax rate of $8.90 per thousand.
In September, the county executive proposed a tax rate increase of $1.13 per thousand, which would have taken the rate to $10.03.
Prior to Wednesday's meeting, legislators had reduced that rate to a potential 50-cent increase, or a rate of $9.40 per thousand.
As a result of their work Wednesday, legislators were able to further cut the rate by 18 cents - for a tentative 2012 tax rate of $9.22 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.
The budget will now go to County Executive Greg Edwards for consideration. Edwards has 10 days to review the budget. He will also hold a public hearing on the budget to hear feedback on what was passed by the legislature.
Legislator Bob Duff, R-Sheridan, discusses a budget issue during the legislature’s budget meeting Wednesday evening.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
According to the county's budget office, the local tax levy in 2012 will be $61,647,077 as a result of the legislature's work - a 3.73 percent increase over 2011. The $9.22 tax rate itself is a 3.61 percent increase over 2011.
The reason the percent increase is greater than 2 percent is because of certain exemptions the county is allowed under the tax cap. Other counties throughout the state similarly have allowable tax cap increases above 2 percent, such as Schuyler County, for instance, which has an adjusted allowable tax cap increase of 3.1 percent.
The county executive's proposal would have increased the levy by $7,603,714, taking it to a total of $67,036,845 in 2012.
Though the county executive has the opportunity to now veto the budget, Legislature Chairman Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, pointed out Wednesday that any such change would then require a tax cap override vote by the legislature.
The County Legislature's budget just barely meets the tax cap limit, coming in under the cap by about $5,370.
"I haven't talked to the county executive, so I don't know what he may do," Croscut said Wednesday. "But he'll have his public hearing on the budget and he'll either sign it or forward it on."
As far as the legislature's changes go, Edwards said Thursday that he was keeping track during the body's Wednesday night meeting - and of all their changes, the only real cut was $20,000.
"The rest was shifting fund balances and not paying bills as they were due and various other transfers," Edwards told The Post-Journal on Thursday. "The only cut was to the legislative clerk, reducing that position part time. All the rest was interbudget transfers."
Edwards continued on to say that he has 10 days to review the budget to determine whether he will make line item vetoes or other changes.
"I'll be meeting with finance professionals from within county operations and the county attorney over the next few days to review what was done (Wednesday) night and its impact going forward," Edwards said.