Yates County Legislators adopted the $44.3 million 2019 county budget Nov. 15 following a public hearing when they heard bi-partisan support for increasing wages for the Yates County Board of Elections Comissioners.
The only change they made to the budget before adopting it was an adjustment to a Court Security line in the plan.
Treasurer Winona Flynn said increases in revenue outpace increases in expenditures and that this budget is the fourth consecutive with a reduced tax rate.
The combined budget results in a levy of $16.4 million, and increase of 1.51 percent over this year.
The budgeted tax rate of $6.24 per $1,000 of equalized assessed valuation reflects a reduction of 21 cents per $1,000.
Speaking from the Republican perspective regarding the election commisssioner’s salary, Marsha Devine said, “The board of elections staff is paid significantly less than the rest of county employees. I urge you to increase their salaries to a level comparable to their peers.”
Democrat Dixon Zorovich added, “They are the front line of free and fair elections. The issues in other states highlight the value of the Yates County employees. They maintain a non-partisan office… They should be paid at least the same as the lowest department head.”
Republican Leigh Williams of Middlesex echoed the sentiments.
The Commissioners are paid $42,479 annually. The next lowest department head salary is paid to the director of Veteran Services at $48,948.
Finance Committee Chair William Holgate and Chairman Douglas Paddock noted that the legislature has committed to complete a wage study for the county management including the election commissioners.
The budget passed unanimously with no discussion by legislators. District I Legislators Elden Morrison and Ed Bronson, and District II legislator Terry Button were absent.
The 2019 spending plan includes:
• Funds to establish a central garage at the highway department, where the county’s fleet of vehicles will be maintained.
• Expenses in multiple departments related to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18
• A budget line for funding natural and recreational resources at $46,184
• A tax stabilization assigned fund balance at $1 million.
The budget also includes funds for feasibility studies for future capital projects, the last payment on the county phone system, six vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department, 10.76 miles of paving, a tandem haul truck, tractor with trailer, a 3/4 ton truck, a 1/2 ton pickup truck, and a sign utility truck.
Flynn said nearly 63 percent, or $10 million of the total tax levy supports state-mandated expenses: Medicaid, New York State pension, community college, social service programs, education of handicapped children, probation, indigent defense, worker’s compensation, and early intervention.