By Liz Skoczylas
MAYVILLE - Four changes to the Chautauqua County 2014 budget were discussed by the legislature's Human Services Committee, and three will be recommended to the Audit and Control Committee.
Following a day of hearing from various county department heads and staff Monday, the committee came up with three changes to the budget.
"I thought the changes at the end of the day were needed and well-thought-out," said committee Chairman Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott. "Now, it's in the hands of Audit and Control. I think this budget that Mr. Edwards has presented, he's done a wonderful job. It's probably the best budget he's presented in eight years. Obviously, there are always changes. At the end of the day, I think the taxpayer will be the beneficiary."
The first change came from Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, regarding Intergovernmental Transfer Funding for the Chautauqua County Home. After hearing from Tim Helwig, County Home administrator, Horrigan recommended removing IGT funding from the budget. Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards had matched last year's IGT funding in his executive budget. The recommendation passed the committee, which Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown, opposing the recommendation.
The second change was brought forward by Tarbrake, who recommended cutting the $500,000 Edwards had added to the budget for the Office for the Aging in half.
"We knew that the Office for the Aging was going to come with a fairly significant increase," Tarbrake said. "The Office of the Aging does a wonderful job providing for our senior citizens. We always have to look at that and see if we do have to make significant changes. We did cut that $500,000 in half today, but I do believe that we can institute the other $250,000 next year. I think that hopefully that will be coming. It's one of my passions to take care of seniors in our county, so I think that's money well spent."
Again, Hoyer was the only committee member to oppose the recommendation.
Vickeye James, D-Jamestown, recommended the committee add three staff members for probation. According to Kitty Crow, budget director, the cost would be between $55,000-$65,000 per probation officer, including benefits. James and Hoyer voted in favor of the recommendation; Horrigan, Tarbrake and John Hemmer, R-Westfield, opposed it. The recommendation failed.
The final recommendation was made by Horrigan, who proposed adding only two probation officers. The recommendation passed the committee unanimously.
Horrigan will present the committee's recommendations to the Audit and Control Committee on Oct. 7.