County budget gives some agencies an increase in funding
Libraries stay the same, Cobblestone Museum remains out of budget
ALBION – The tentative Orleans County budget gives funding increases to some agencies, while keeping the libraries unchanged.
The budget also doesn’t provide funding for the Cobblestone Museum, despite a request from the museum for some support from the county.
“We looked at them all on a case by case basis as we perceived the overall need,” said David Callard, the Orleans County Legislature chairman. “It varied among the organizations.”
Callard said the county has upped funding for some agencies in recent years, but is constrained because of the state-imposed tax cap.
For three years, from 2012 to 2014, the agencies were all frozen in their county contributions. That was when the county was feeling the burden of deficits from the county nursing home.
That facility became privately owned in 2015. Once it was out of the county budget, the county had a bigger cushion for infrastructure projects, and the agencies.
Here is a snapshot of how the county has contributed to different agencies since 2012:
• The Cornell Cooperative Extension went from $219,150 in 2012-14, to $225,000 in 2015, $232,500 in 2016, and to a tentative $240,000 in 2017. The agency requested $275,000 next year.
• The Orleans Economic Development Agency was at $150,000 in 2012-14, and then went to $170,000 in 2015, $166,500 in 2016, and $170,000 in 2017. The $170,000 is what the agency requested for next year. The EDA generates some of its own funds through fees for local projects.
• The Soil and Water Conservation District was funded at $57,750 in 2012-14, and then went to $75,000 in 2015, $77,500 in 2016 and to a tentative $80,000 in 2017. Soil and Water requested $90,000 next year.
• The four public libraries in Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina collectively receive $10,000, the funding level since at least 2012. They requested $1 per county resident or $42,883.
County legislators in the past have said the libraries have the option of collecting taxes to raise their own funds, which isn’t an option for the other agencies.
“We feel it’s an important to at least maintain a level of support for the libraries,” Callard said. “We haven’t forsaken them.”
• The county provided $1,000 a year to the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts in 2012-14, and increased that to $3,000 in 2015 and 2016. The Arts Council requested $5,500 in 2017. The tentative budget keeps the funding at $3,000 for 2017.
• The Sportsmen’s Federation received $500 annually from 2012-14, and was bumped up to $1,000 in 2015 and 2016. The tentative budget keeps the federation at $1,000.
• Cobblestone Museum board members Diane Palmer and Susan Starkweather-Miller asked legislators in September for county funding for the museum, the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County. The museum includes seven historic buildings, as well as outhouses and other important community artifacts.
Callard said he favored some county support for the museum, but the seven-member Legislature didn’t reach that consensus.
Neighboring Genesee County also has a National Historic Landmark with the Holland Land Office Museum. Genesee provides $37,282 in county funding for that museum in Batavia, which is a smaller site than the Cobblestone Museum.
The Legislature will have a hearing on the $65.6 million budget at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the County Courthouse in Albion, and has scheduled a Dec. 5 meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the legislative chambers of the County Clerks Building to adopt the budget.