Yates budget proposal includes many cuts

Gwen Chamberlain

Yates County Legislators will begin combing through the proposed 2010 county budget next Monday. They just received the document over the weekend.

The budget proposal, prepared by County Administrator Sarah Purdy, takes into account a $776,000 hit caused by loss of interest income and an increase in the amount the county will be required to pay into the ailing state pension system.

She calls the $40 million budget austere, and it is, even though total spending is up over $1.2 million.

To keep the tax levy at  the 2009 level of just over $12 million, the plan calls for:

• Not filling five vacant staff positions. The vacancies include the deputy public health director, a Social Services administrative assistant, a dispatcher, probation supervisor and a highway position. “The need for these positions is evident, but it is not possible in the current economic environment to continue the existing staffing levels in the county government organization. Many other counties have downsized through attrition; it is necessary for Yates County to do so as well,” writes Purdy in the budget’s summary.

Purdy does recommend filling the information technologies director position.

• Not funding the Finger Lakes Visitors Association (FLVA), a new tourism promotion organization that has requested $150,000. Instead, Purdy recommends the county allocate $84,000 to the Yates County Chamber of Commerce with a stipulation that $5,000 of that amount be passed on to the FLVA. She explains that this will allow the Chamber of Commerce, which requested $96,000, to apply for matching funds through the I Love NY program and still give FLVA some funding. (see related story)

• Reducing funding to other cooperating agencies by 5 percent.

• A 25 percent reduction in Penn Yan recreation funds to $15,000. Purdy says in 2008, the first year the county agreed to give the village funds, vouchers were not submitted until September, after a reminder was sent. This year, the county has still not received a voucher. The county is taking on a $20,359 expense on the village’s behalf for a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the Lake Street Plaza.

• Not purchasing replacement vehicles and equipment.

• Reducing allocations for community agencies supported by county funds.

•Not funding projects such as broadband, waterfront redevelopment and public transportation unless bonding or grants are available.

The $40 million spending plan includes a total tax levy of $12,131,154. It uses up over $3 million in total surplus funds.

Purdy says while the state budget cuts announced by Gov. David Paterson last week will have some impact on Yates County, she was not surprised by his announcement.

She says she knew through her contacts that the cuts would be in public health,  mental health community services and in programs for developmental disabilities. Since Yates County does not maintain programs, but contracts with other providers for those services, the impact isn’t as severe as in other parts of the state, where county employees provide services.

The budget workshops to review the recommended 2010 budget will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 26 and Tuesday, Oct. 27 in the legislative chambers. The review of cooperating agency allocations will begin at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26.