MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards will deliver his final executive budget to the legislature tonight in Mayville. It will be the eighth and final budget for the Jamestown Republican, who announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection for a third term this November.
Speaking with WRFA during the summer, Edwards offered a brief preview of the 2014 Chautauqua County budget, saying during his seven-and-a-half years as county executive, the county has actually seen its total amount of tax revenue go down – although that’s becoming more and more difficult to achieve on an annual basis.
“I’m working off of seven years of evidence of having a very conservative budget – the elimination of every and all expenses that can be appropriately eliminated to preserve the work we’ve done over seven years,” Edwards said. “Today, the people of Chautauqua County are paying $3.5 million less in county taxes than they did in 2006 when I began as county executive. Every time you move forward, having had those steps along the way, it becomes more difficult, because there’s less to cut and expenses continue to go up, as we all experience in our budget.”
Edwards said that one of the main challenges he’s seen in the recent years is the national recession. And while some economic sectors and regions of the country have slowly started to move out of the recession, he says that unfortunately that upswing has yet to make its way to Chautauqua County.
“It has been a very difficult budget going forward because we have been in the midst of a the worst economic crisis the nation has ever seen since the great depression, and that’s the recession,” Edwards explained. “There is some evidence that some sectors have come out of the recession – albeit very slowly – but Chautauqua County has not been the benefactor of much of that growth, because of international and national policies.”
Among the items that Edwards is expected to focus on when presenting next year’s spending plan is IGT (Intergovernmental Transfer Program) funding for the Chautauqua County Home. The IGT funds are a matching federal grant that helps to subsidize the cost of running the skilled nursing facility. Last year, Edwards removed the IGT funds from the budget, although that funding was eventually added back into the budget during the legislature’s budget deliberations. The county home is currently up for sale with a prospective buyer – VestraCare from New York City – expressing interest in purchasing the facility. No specific date has been given on when the legislature is expected to act on the latest proposed sale of the home.
The county executive will present his proposed 2014 county budget tonight during the legislature’s monthly meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative Chambers and is open to the public.