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2019 County Budget Proposes Increase In Taxes, Decrease In Spending

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The Cortland County Legislature met last night (November 15) to release the County’s 2019 tentative budget.

Among the highlights:

–The proposed budget initially estimated a .4% increase in the County’s spending, but adjustments made to the Solid Waste reserve contributions on Tuesday (November 13) now estimate a .3% decrease and a $134,217,842.83 total budget. The adjustments were made at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

–Next year’s average County tax rate is proposed to be increased by 1.37% ($15.37/1000, compared to this year’s rate of $15.17/1000).

–Department heads were asked to try and cut their individual budgets, but many were operating on bare-minimum budgets to begin with. The result is a deficit of more than $2 million to make up for. The budget proposes a 2% increase in the County’s tax levy with this in mind ($35,436,302, compared to $34,741,472 this year).

–One of the causes of the deficit includes the loss of “off the top” sales tax revenue, dictated by a new sales tax agreement put in place this year. Sales tax revenue is expected to be increased by about 2%. One million dollars of the County’s sales tax revenue will automatically be sent to the jail project reserve, while $300,000 will be used exclusively for debt reduction. County debt payments will also increase by $420,000 next year.

–A $1.2 million transfer was made from the County’s unappropriated fund to balance the 2019 budget proposal.

The legislators received the 250-page document yesterday and will have the next few weeks to make their own recommendations on these provisions and many more.

A special meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee will be held at 1 p.m. on November 26 to consider any changes to the 2019 tentative budget.

There will also be a public hearing on the budget held on November 29. More public hearings will be held afterwards, if necessary.

The Legislature will then have until December 20 to approve a final budget for next year.

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