Cortland County Legislature Approves 2014 County Budget
Cortland County lawmakers have approved the 2014 County budget, they have agreed to restore $76 thousand dollars in spending to fund paid aide positions at County Senior Centers.
Prior to the budget vote last night County leaders continued to debate the use of fund balance to fund the budget and reduce taxes.
Some lawmakers like Democrat Tony Pace say the county’s unrestricted fund balance is too high and the money should be used to fund programs and services or be used to reduce taxes.
Pace argued unsuccessfully to use $180 thousand dollars from the reserves to eliminate this year’s tax increase, the measure was defeated.
Pace who was the only legislator who voted against the budget says the County is in the business of providing services to residents not collecting money.
Fellow Democrat John Troy urged his colleagues to avoid the temptation of using fund balance to pay for reoccurring expenses. Troy said it’s been done in the past and has resulted in more pain to the taxpayer in the long run.
Lawmakers did agree to take the additional funding for the Senior Centers from fund balance instead of adding it to the tax levy.
Lawmakers also voted to add a part time position in the County Treasurers Office at a cost of $15 thousand dollars a year.
County Treasurer Cindy Monroe says the delinquent tax receiver position will help ease some of the workload in her office.
The budget includes raises for county employees and includes spending for five more corrections officers in the county jail. The increased staffing follows an audit by the state that found overtime expenses in the jail were excessive.
Next year’s county budget calls for $123 million in spending; it carries a tax levy of $33 million which is a 1.6% increase over the current year.
The average county tax rate will increase two cents next year, some communities will see a higher increase based on assessed value and current property equalization rates, but on average a home assessed at $100 thousand dollars in Cortland County will see a two dollar increase in county property taxes.