County approves 2020 budget totaling $71.7 million

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2019 at 8:24 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday unanimously approved a $71,711,638 budget for 2020, which is up 1.0 percent from the $71,031,480 in 2019.

The budget increases taxes by 2.5 percent or $439,455 to $18,009,699 in 2020. That remains under the tax cap because the county had some carryover from prior years when it was under the cap.

Although the tax levy – what the county collects in taxes – will increase by 2.5 percent, the tax rate is going down by 23 cents, from $10.10 to $9.87 per $1,000 of assessed property. That’s because of growth in the county’s tax base. Assessed values are up 4.93 percent or by $85.7 million – from $1.74 billion in 2019 to $1.82 billion in 2020.

County officials needed to include about $350,000 in additional costs to meet state mandates for new criminal justice programs with bail reform and discovery laws. The state didn’t provide funding for those initiatives. The county will need to add four new positions – two in the District Attorney’s Office and two in Probation – to meet the new requirements that start Jan. 1.

The county could have covered those costs with the estimated $400,000 in new sales tax revenue on internet purchases. But the state instead is requiring the county to pay $290,000 to towns and villages in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities. AIM is a state program that the governor and State Legislature decided will be partially funded by counties through their sales tax.

The budget maintains services provided by 430 full- and part-time employees. The budget keeps school resource officers at Kendall and Lyndonville school districts. (Those districts reimburse the county for providing officers at the schools, which started in 2018.)

The county budget also will invest $3.85 million infrastructure with road maintenance and bridge and culvert work, Nesbitt said in a budget message.

The budget keeps the same level of funding in 2020 as 2019 for several agencies that provide services in the community: Cornell Cooperative Extension, $240,000; Orleans Economic Development Agency, $190,000; Soil & Water Conservation District, $92,500; four public libraries, $10,000 combined; Sportsmen’s Federation, $4,000; and Geneses-Orleans Regional Arts Council, $3,000.

The fee for solid waste and recycling service will be $212, which is the same as 2019. That cost is holding steady as the county transitioned to larger recycling totes this year, which are picked up every two weeks instead of weekly.

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