MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County executive Vince Horrigan has presented a budget for 2016 that not only cuts property taxes by more than four percent, but also reduces spending by $3 million.
On Wednesday night Horrigan laid out his tentative $256 million spending plan before the Chautauqua County Legislature. A cornerstone of the spending plan is a reduction in the property tax rate by 4.6 percent and an increase in sales tax by .5 percent.
Horrigan said the drop in property taxes will help to improve the local economy.
“This new era of lower property taxes will supercharge our growth strategy by attracting new businesses and new homeowners while retaining our existing property owners,” Horrigan said. “Our future success hinges on growth and will bend our future deficit protections to better levels.”
Under Horrigan’s spending plan, property taxes would drop by 42 cents per $1,000 assessed value, bringing the new tax rate to $8.73 per $1,000.
One reason why they county is able to reduce the property tax rate is by increasing sales tax by half a percent, which Horrigan said would not only generate additional revenue, but also keep the county on par with the rest of Western New York.
“Returning to an 8 percent sales tax rate will put us equal to the average of our Western New York neighboring counties and significantly below Erie County,” Horrigan said. “Maintaining the clothing exemption, the home energy exemption and sharing the cost of services with visitors to Chautauqua County holds our property taxes down and puts us on a road to growth with our tax base.”
With the sales tax hike, the overall sales tax revenue in the 2016 budget is projected to by $37.15 million dollars, an increase of $8.7 million compared to 2015.
Another reason for a drop in property taxes is a $4.5 million decrease in contractual expenses, which include the transfer of WIC and Family Planning to other providers and reductions in Health and Human Services.
Other highlights of the budget include a plan to reduce incarceration costs by adding two new positions to the department of probation, which would allow for more non-violent offenders to not have to spend as much time in jail.
The county executive also highlighted a several economic development initiatives, including a new tenant for the former Carriage House food processing plant in Dunkirk as well as a new $54 million Dairy Processing plant in Ripley.
The budget will now go before the county legislature for its consideration. Because of the sales tax increase and the need to file that increase with the state, lawmakers this year have a deadline of Nov. 1 to finalize and approve the spending plan.