Budget starts within cap

Gwen Chamberlain

Yates County Legislators will spend two days next week filtering through the tentative 2015 county budget just released by budget officer Sarah Purdy on Monday.

The $42.8 million budget increases the total tax levy by $404,621 or 2.6 percent, $5,626 less than that allowed by the state tax cap law, according to Purdy.

One of the issues that is likely to generate significant discussion is the future of the Veteran’s Services Director position. Purdy’s plan calls for reducing the full time position to a part time post after Director P. Earle Gleason retires.

Purdy argues that technology changes can produce efficiencies, and a new part time director can maintain the quality of service the county’s veterans deserve while saving the county $36,443.

Purdy also recommends if the legislators restore the position to full time, they should also add a motor equipment operator position in the Highway Department. Last month the legislators agreed to promote a heavy equipment operator into a vacant working supervisor position in the department after a supervisor’s retirement. But they delayed a decision on creating a new motor equipment operator position to replace the HEO worker.

Purdy explains, “To restore the one (Veteran’s Services Director) and cut the other would give the appearance of paying for a full-time Veteran’s Services Director through the Highway Department budget.”

The tentative budget includes the use of dedicated and reserve funds for specific projects. If legislators trim any of the project spending, the use of the corresponding funds will be cut as well. The building reserve fund of $108,000 will be used for roof replacement at the Benton Center Highway complex. The work is included in the capital plan for 2015. A $32,000 payment for the pending broadband project will come from the infrastructure reserve fund. Improvements to the county’s telephone system will be paid for from a telephone reserve fund and the communications capital fund will be used for $75,000 in work on communications towers.

In addition, $1.85 million from the general fund balance will be used to help offset costs. As in prior years, Purdy reminds legislators that for several years the county’s auditors have advised the county to reduce its reliance on the use of $2 million from the general fund to offset spending. She says the fund is being reduced more each year. Treasurer Winona Flynn will present details on the fund balance at the beginning of the upcoming workshops.

The budget anticipates sales tax revenues of $10.6 million in 2015, up from this year’s budgeted $10.3 million. Sales tax revenues in Yates County in 2014 are flat over 2013, when just over $10.6 million was collected.

A new revenue source from the state related to gaming will bring Yates County an additional $158,903 in 2015.

The entire budget, Purdy’s narrative and other supporting documents are available for review at www.yatescounty.org.

The legislators will meet for budget workshops from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Oct. 27. At 1 p.m. the workshop will continue with reviews of community agency funding, and will continue through the afternoon and Tuesday morning again at 9 a.m. A detailed agenda is also available at www.yatescounty.org.

Tentative budget by the numbers

Total Spending: $42,783,979

Total Tax Levy:  $15,857,813

Levy increase:        $404,621

                                 (2.6  percent)

Workshops will begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 27 in the Legislative Chambers. The budget and supporting documents are available at www.yatescounty.org.