MAYVILLE - A busy month for the County Legislature concludes today, although the busiest day may have been saved for last.
On tap for lawmakers in a two-part session is a set of local laws to adopt new legislative districts, and the 2013 county budget. Both items will be preceded by public hearings.
"We should have a full day with our reapportionment meeting in the evening and our budget meeting at night," said legislature chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville. "We should expect a full day."
Starting at 2 p.m. in the legislative chambers in Mayville, lawmakers will convene for a public hearing on two redistricting proposals that emerged from a reapportionment committee. The bipartisan committee, co-chaired by legislators Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, and Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton, was unable to come to a consensus on redrawing the county's 19 new districts.
The reapportionment took into account data from the 2010 U.S. Census and a referendum to downsize the legislature.
"I think the committee stumbled a bit," Gould said of the two proposals. "I think they were trying to be efficient, but they spent too much time talking about nothing.
"They went over, and over, and over the same things."
The dueling proposals, Barmore said, were due to a lack of accord.
"The committee could not get a clear consensus on favoring one plan over the other," Barmore said recently. "Neither plan got enough votes to send it to the legislature."
DeJoe said he expects either plan should have the support for passage. "It's going to be a close race," he said. "It's looking like it's going to be close either way."
The Brocton Democrat said he would like to see the proposals, if neither receives enough votes to pass, sent back to the reapportionment committee.
"I'm hoping this goes back to the committee so we can get this resolved," he said.
According to Steve Abdella, legislature attorney, a simple majority will be enough to pass either redistricting plan. Both have been drafted into local laws.
Lawmakers will then meet again at 6:30 p.m. in the Gerace Office Building to hold a public hearing on the 2013 county budget. Next year's spending plan has seen moderate changes since County Executive Greg Edwards released it late last month.
The legislature's Audit Control Committee last week recommended several changes to the budget, most notably projecting additional revenue from sales tax. The committee also approved $230,000 for new equipment in the county Department of Public Facilities and a grant to the county Social Services Department.
Revenue from the sale of the Chautauqua County Home also was removed from Edwards' tentative budget. As a result, the committee recommended using an additional $5 million from the county fund balance to make up the difference in a proposed $62.3 million tax levy. The county tax rate would be increased 18 cents to $9.40 per $1,000 assessed value if revenue from the sale of the County Home is not included.
A resolution has been filed with the legislature to approve the modifications and the budget outright.
"There will probably be more adjustments to the budget," Gould said, adding that if the full budget isn't passed Wednesday, a special meeting will be called in November.
"We may have to have (that meeting) next month to get it passed," he said.