Cortland legislators met in full last night to review the tentative 2021 county budget, which would cut spending by more than $5.3M from last year, or 3.77%.
Property taxes would go up by 2.75% for a total levy of $37,459,265, which first requires passage of the state’s mandated tax cap — this year, that calculation came in relatively low at 1.56%, compared to 3.25% last year.
The difference? A global pandemic; perhaps. But even before COVID-19, the county had started the year with a two million dollar deficit and operating expenses that were outpacing revenues.
“For years, the County was on an unsustainable path to insolvency in part because it chose to rely on fund balance to offset those operating losses,” said county administrator Rob Corpora. “This pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult financial picture.”
If approved, Corpora’s plan would use more than $855k in fund balance to offset expenditures, representing a 56% reduction compared to 2020. He shared some good news last night that losses seem to be improving over time.
“Currently, we’re down about 3% for the year,” he said. “This is promising news, but sales tax revenue is tenuous at best — estimated to be down at least 10% — and a resurgence of the virus could hamper any recovery of economic activity in our community.”
A public hearing on the budget will lead off next week’s regular legislative session on Thursday, October 22, beginning at 6:00 pm.
November 19 would be the earliest date of potential adoption.