MAYVILLE – Despite some major challenges heading into 2014, Chautauqua County executive Greg Edwards has presented to the Chautauqua County legislature a manageable spending plan. During last night’s legislature meeting, the outgoing county executive presented a tentative $230.8 million 2014 county budget, which includes a spending increase of $1,151,000 – or half-of-one percent over the current year’s total.
Edwards said much of the credit for the limited increase was due to his department heads. “The folks that work for you as legislators and work with me as department heads and their front line staff and everyone throughout our organization should be commended for. In this environment, to be able to do that, after having done much the same thing for seven straight years, is commendable.”
The tentative 2014 budget calls for a total property tax levy of just over $64 million, which is $757,000 below the state’s required 2 percent tax cap. The actual property tax rate would be $9.39 per thousand dollars assessed value – an increase of 24 cents over the current rate. Edwards said that means for a home valued at $100,000, the total property tax increase would equal $23.65 under his spending proposal.
Among the items included in the budget was an additional $300,000 in spending for county road and bridge project and $500,000 for senior care through the office for the aging. Meanwhile, thanks to a sluggish economy, the budget will see no increase in sales tax revenue and because of more local inmates being housed in the county jail, the sheriff’s office will see a reduction in federal funding to help operate the facility. Perhaps most notably, IGT (Intergrovernmental Transfer Program) Funding for the Chautauqua County Home that is at the same level as this year – a total of $1,050,000.
Following the presentation, Edwards said that the legislature does have a few options to consider if they with to reel in the tax increase.
“They could elect not to fund the IGT for the county home and that cuts $1,050,000 out of the budget. They could say we don’t want to invest another $300,000 in our roads and bridges. They could decide they don’t want to invest another $500,000 in our seniors. They could decide to just draw all that money out of our fund balance. All those are decisions they could make.”
The Legislature will spend the next several weeks reviewing the budget. They have until Dec. 1 to approve a spending plan, but it’s likely they’ll actually have a budget in place well before the deadline.
A copy of the budget can be found online at the finance section of the county website.