County passes $65.6 million budget in unanimous vote
ALBION – Orleans County legislators in a 7-0 vote this morning approved the county’s $65,614,624 budget for 2017.
The budget wasn’t controversial. It was unchanged from a tentative plan filed last month by Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer, and no one opposed the plan during a budget hearing last week.
The budget will reduce the tax rate by 3 cents to $9.86 per $1,000 of assessed property.
However, the county will take in 2.5 percent more in taxes, up $405,260 to $16,728,410. The 2.5 percent increase remains under the tax cap because the county was under it in recent years and can carry over that difference.
David Callard, chairman of the County Legislature, said the tax cap leaves little cushion for legislators.
“It was important to hold the line on taxes, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult,” Callard said. “There’s always more that you could do and would like to do but we’re bound by constraints.”
The tax rate will go down slightly because total assessed value in the county grew 2.844 percent from $1.650 billion to $1.696 billion.
Overall spending is up 1.8 percent or by $1.18 million to $65,614,624.
Some highlights of the 2017 budget include:
• The 2017 budget includes four mental health positions to staff ten new satellite offices across the five districts that had been added throughout 2016.
“These positions are revenue generating, justifying themselves from a cost benefit standpoint,” Nesbitt said in his budget message.
• The Office for the Aging has a grant to add a full-time aging service specialist. In January 2017, a statewide advertising campaign will encourage New Yorkers to contact NY Connects throughout the state as a No Wrong Door entity providing access to long-term care services. This newly created position will screen all calls and walk‐ins for individuals from birth to death for long-term care services.
• The amount budgeted for pensions with the New York State Retirement System was down $27,387 from 2016 at $2,627,117 (a reduction of just over 1%). This is reflective of some employees on Tier 5 and 6, Nesbitt said.
• The county jail shows the largest single increase of any department at $277,127.
“Regulators at the state level have forced the county to eliminate most of the revenue for boarding inmates in our facility,” Nesbitt said in his message. “The state has also required that the county change the methodology for allocation of command staff at the facility. This has resulted in additional costs to the facility.”
• The nine major state mandates that used to make up 90 percent of statewide county property taxes are down slightly from $16,397,378 in 2016 to $16,319,197 in 2017. This reduction is primarily due to reductions in the local Medicaid share resulting from enhancements in the Affordable Care Act.
“If the ACA is repealed, it will have a significant impact on property taxes across the state of New York and likely forcing universal Tax Cap overrides by counties across the state,” Nesbitt said.
• The tax rate will go down slightly because total assessed value in the county grew 2.8 percent from $1.650 billion to $1.696 billion.
- The Cornell Cooperative Extension was boosted from $232,500 in 2016 to $240,000 in 2017.
- The Orleans Economic Development Agency was increased from $166,500 in 2016 to $170,000 in 2017.
- The Soil and Water Conservation District was boosted from $77,500 in 2016 to $80,000 next year.
- The four public libraries in Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina collectively will receive $10,000, the funding level since at least 2012.
- The county will keep funding at $3,000 for the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.
- The Sportsmen’s Federation will continue at $1,000 in 2017.