Yates County Legislators have approved a tentative budget that includes a reduction in the tax rate to $5.99 per $1,000 of assessed value from the $6.24 rate charged this year.

The budget calls for total spending of nearly $46 million. The total amount to be collected from property taxes is $16.5 million, a 0.5% increase over the 2019 levy.

The budget will be presented at a public hearing at 6 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Legislative Chambers of the Yates County Office Building.

During two days of budget workshops last week, the legislators reviewed budget plans for 38 departments and eight outside organizations. Along the way, they made some changes, but most of the plan was prepared in advance by department heads and budget officer/acting administrator Nonie Flynn.

During the workshops, the legislators added positions in the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices in anticipation of the additional workload expected from the criminal justice reforms that become law Jan. 1, 2020. The additions are an assistant district attorney, and law enforcement liaison in the DA’s office and an additional investigator in the Sheriff’s office.

They also increased the salaries for legislators by $750 each to $8933 annually and the legislative chairman to $17,866.

District 2 Legislator Timothy Dennis, who is leaving the post Dec. 31, pointed out that only three of the sitting legislators voting on the budget are assured of being re-elected, so the vote could impact the salaries of other individuals.

However, Chairman Doug Paddock (District 1), and Legislators Elden Morrison (District 1), Timothy Cutler (District 1), and Terry Button (District 2) voted against the increase.

The value of taxable property in the county increased by 6.15% or nearly $157 million, which also helped reduce the tax rate. The total taxable property valuation in Yates County is more than $2.5 billion, according to figures provided by Flynn.

Contractual expenses totaling more than $17.5 million and personal services totaling nearly $13 million account for most of the spending in the general budget.  The budget includes a 2% salary increase as negotiated by the County 82 Emergency Communications and CSEA bargaining agreements, a 2.5% increase as negotiated by the Council 82 Corrections and other employees unit and a 1.5% increase as negotiated by Council 82 deputy sheriffs.

The road and road machinery budget calls for $8.2 million in spending.

The Economic Assistance portion of the budget totals $11.4 million. Flynn explains the Social Services budget includes increases in program and contract costs based on 2019’s expenditures and historical amounts. Additional children have been taken into foster care and some juvenile delinquents have needed higher levels of care.

Public safety accounts for nearly $10 million in total spending, or nearly 22% of the budget, and roads account for $6.7 million or nearly 15% of the spending plan.

The budget anticipates more than $13.5 million in non-property tax revenue, $8.2 million in state aid and $3.7 million in federal aid.

The tentative 2020 budget includes all expenditures approved in the Capital Improvement Plan, totaling $3.35 million. This includes the last payment on the county office building and courthouse debt, insulation in the annex and old courthouse, an annex preservation study, a truck replacement for the building and grounds department, seven vehicles for the sheriff’s department, 11.71 miles of paving, two flatbeds, two pick-up trucks, a snow and ice truck, a chipper and a rubber tire excavator for the highway department and three vehicles for central garage.

The budget also includes $4,000 each for the Yates History Center and Arts Center of Yates County, $255,000 for Cornell Cooperative Extension, and $92,600 for Yates County Soil & Water. 

It also includes funding for Yates Chamber of Commerce as the Tourism Promotion Agency.

The tentative 2020 budget can be downloaded at the county’s website, www.yatescounty.org.