The full Cortland County Legislature held a special meeting last night (September 9), where Chairman Kevin Whitney released to them a draft version of the 2020 Cortland County Budget.
Over the past month, the various County Department Heads have met with Whitney and his legislative staff to work out their proposed spending plans for the coming year.
Months are still left before a final 2020 budget needs to be approved this December, yet preliminary figures released last night show some tough adjustments have already been made to improve the anticipate deficit for next year.
Prior to the budgeting process, Cortland County was facing a $9.24M anticipated deficit for 2020 – a number based on the sum of the estimated 2020 deficit, on top of the running debt that continues to pile up year-to-year.
After working with the various department heads and making some tough changes to spending plans across the board, Whitney’s team says that number has been worked down to just under $3M.
“It’s become very apparent that Cortland County is facing some structural issues,” said Clerk of the Legislature Eric Mulvihill, in a phone interview with WXHC News. “We’re seeing rolling deficits of $1-1.5M every year, which only puts us further and further behind the curve when it comes to budget season.”
At this point, things are still too preliminary to estimate any accurate numbers in the document released last night, regarding any proposed rate increases for residents and municipalities.
Legislators have been given just under a month to gather input and recommend any further changes before the next budget workshop session on October 7.
Mulvihill says Chairman Whitney wanted to give Legislators enough time to properly address the hard issues at-hand before a tentative budget is set:
“We really need to close that spending gap,” Mulvihill said. “We do have some time, but given the tough questions and decisions facing the Legislature, the Chairman wanted to give them as much time as possible to weigh in on how we might be able to improve further on this plan.”
Residents will get their chance to weigh in the tentative budget at a public hearing, which will be scheduled ahead of time.
An official 2020 Budget submission is due, no later than December 20, 2019.
If nothing official is passed by the full Legislature before then, the tentative budget would automatically become the official plan until the Legislature made any amendments to it.
Stay tuned with WXHC News in the coming weeks for updates on the County Budget process.