The proposed tax levy in the tentative budget is $64.2 million – an increase of 3.7% over the current year. Meanwhile, the proposed tax rate will increase by 1.1%, or 8 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. That means if approved as currently proposed the 2020 budget would result in a new tax rate of $8.46 per $1,000.
The tax rate increase was added by the county’s Audit and Control committee after it reviewed the county executive’s proposed budget earlier this month. In his initial spending plan, County Executive George Borrello called for a 2.7% tax levy increase but also proposed no increase in the tax levy. Instead, he wanted to rely on using some of the county’s fund balance to close any spending gaps without increasing the tax rate.
Committee members felt that a smaller portion of the fund balance should be applied to next year’s budget because it may be needed to help stabilize taxes in future budget years. As a result, they opted to bump up the tax levy increase, which in turn resulted in the slight tax rate increase.
The news of the adjustment has raised concerns within the business community. On Tuesday Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Tranum released a statement saying the organization would prefer to see a continued focus on lowering taxes, not increasing them.
“It is worth noting that the appropriations increase within the 2020 budget is 1.1%, which is below the current inflation rate of 1.7%. However, approximately thirteen departmental budgets are increasing their costs beyond the rate of inflation. We encourage the County legislature to take another look at the budget to seek cost savings,” Tranum said. “We believe there are cost containment opportunities through departmental efficiencies and mergers that can continue the trend of lowering the Chautauqua County tax rate.”
Prior to tonight’s budget vote, the full legislature will have an opportunity to discuss and make any final changes to the budget proposal. The meeting tonight begins at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office building in Mayville and is open to the public.