County budget holds line on taxes, with tax rate dropping 22 cents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2022 at 9:10 am

$93.7 million proposal includes replacement of county’s fuel farm, bridge and road work

ALBION – Orleans County’s tentative 2023 budget would increase spending by 19.1 percent or by about $15 million – from $78,691,774 in 2022 to $93,702,812 in 2023.

Despite that increase, the tax levy will remain the same at $18,657,000 with the tax rate decreasing by 22 cents to $9.87 per $1,000 of assessed property.

“This year’s $93 million budget recommendation is influenced by the core inflation rate that is at a 40-year high, the continued employment challenges of retaining and hiring new employees, prolonged supply chain issues which have no certainty of the price of goods or the delivery of goods as quoted as well as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jack Welch, the county’s budget officer and chief administrative officer.

He filed the tentative budget on Nov. 15. He thanked the department heads and county legislators for their work on the budget.

There will be a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the legislative chambers of the County Office Building.

The tentative budget includes a capital plan totaling $13,618,267 with $3,000,715 coming from the 2023 budget with the rest from state CHIPS and TIP funds, as well as a county infrastructure, and building and equipment reserve funds.

Some of the capital projects include $1.5 million for replacement of the county’s fuel farm; $1,390,000 for a solar farm and energy efficiency project; $2,096,100 to replace the Angling Road bridge; $1,040,00 to replace the bridge on Route 237; $999,616 for the Lakeshore Road bridge project; $776,000 for Taylor Hill Road culvert replacement; $1,890,000 for highway reconstruction; $700,000 for an addition to the DPW; $792,615 for CAD and RMS software in the Sheriff’s Office; $200,000 for jail repairs; and other vehicles and equipment upgrades.

The budget gives some agencies an increase and while others stay at the same level of funding.

The Orleans Economic Development would receive $200,000 in 2023, up from $190,000; Soil & Water Conservation would get $95,000, up from $92,500; and the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council would receive $4,000, up from $3,000.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension remains at $240,000 and the four public libraries continue at $10,000. Mercy Flight stays at $5,000 and the Sportsman’s Federation remains at $1,000.

The county continues to experience strong growth in sales tax revenue, which is taking pressure off from raising property taxes. The budget Welch and Kim DeFrank, county treasurer, budgets for a $1 million increase in sales tax. That $18,843,000 is up $1 million over 2022. The county’s sales tax revenue increased about $400,000 through the first nine months this year, after jumping $2.4 million in 2021.

“Orleans County experienced historical growth in sales tax receipts during the pandemic,” Welch said in a budget message. “The question was this a temporary change or have residents created a new habit of purchasing online? Now with record inflation rate on food, non-taxable sales, will this reduce our residents’ discretionary taxable sales purchasing in 2023?”

The county has used some of the sales tax increase to fund capital projects. It opted against lowering the county sales tax on gas when prices were at record highs this summer.

The county workforce includes 345 full-time employees and 96 part-timers. There are also 163 seasonal workers with 150 in the Board of Elections.