Budget Officer’s proposal keeps tax rate nearly flat while spending increases by almost 3 percent. Budget workshops will be held
Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in the Legislative Chambers. The proposed budget can be found at the county’s website, www.yatescounty.org.

Yates County Legislators are getting their first look at the proposed 2018 budget, which will be the subject of two days of workshops next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Treasurer Winona Flynn, who is also the county’s budget officer,  circulated a memo outlining specific areas Oct. 16. She says the proposed spending plan meets the budget guideline issued by the legislature to stay within the property tax cap of $489,116 or 3.05 percent, which results in a flat tax rate of $6.53 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Flynn says an increase in the value of taxable property in the county combined with what she calls a “modest” tax levy increase of $343,440 keeps the tax rate at this year’s level.

While proposed spending is increasing 2.89 percent to $42.8 million, the plan calls for the use of $311,616 more in reserves to help offset those costs.

Areas of notable changes include:

• Debt: The county’s debt payments will be reduced by over $216,000,

• Roads: An increase of $715,299 or 13.97 percent in the roads budget is related to  increased employee training, repairs to Loomis Road bridge, and additional paving of 0.4 miles of roads.

• Public Safety: An increase in the sheriff’s budget reflects the cost of call back and part time Deputy expenses in addition to the cost of vehicles in the previously approved capital plan. Costs for software and the Monroe County lab are also increasing, along with budgeted overtime for corrections officers and other jail expenses. The public safety budget accounts for just over 22 percent of the total budget.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent salary increase as negotiated by two bargaining units, and a projected 7.1 percent increase for health insurance premiums. The county funds health reimbursement accounts for employees at $1,300 for a single policy and $2,600 of all others for a total cost of $211,575.

The proposed budget also includes $3 million in expenses in the capital improvement plan, which includes upgrades to the courthouse security system, shower replacement in the jail, pavement of 10.1 miles of county roads, purchasing six vehicles for the highway department, and six deputy patrol cars.

Flynn notes that state mandated program costs account for 63.13 percent of the total tax levy. “The county’s contribution to the state’s Medicaid program continues to be the county’s largest single expense, and represents 40.6 percent of all the mandates and 25.6 percent of the tax levy,” explains Flynn.

Earlier this year, the legislature agreed to assign $500,000 with a goal to maintain stable property tax rates despite increased costs in areas where the county has no control. Forecasting the next five years, Flynn says those funds may be needed in the near future.

The proposed budget does not include funds for a recently adopted policy that would make about $45,000 available for supporting the preservation of natural and recreational resources.

The legislators will begin reviewing the proposed budget at 9 a.m. Oct. 31. The morning agenda will cover many county departments. Legislators will hear presentations from community agencies beginning at 1 p.m. before continuing with county departments in the afternoon. Wednesday’s session begins at 9 a.m. with a review of Social Services, and an open discussion will close the workshop. Based on past workshops, this is the point when legislators get into deeper discussions about adjustments to the spending plan. 

After the legislators vote to accept the proposed budget, a public hearing will be scheduled. Changes can be made to the budget before or after the public hearing. The legislature must adopt a budget no later than Dec. 20, according to County law. If the legislators fail to adopt the budget before Dec. 20, the tentative budget will be used.