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UPDATE: Fulton County budget proposal still well above tax cap

Supervisors already voted to override state mandate

November 14, 2012
Updated 9:52 p.m.
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— The latest version of Fulton County’s tentative $88.8 million budget would carry a property tax levy increase of 9.4 percent, nearly four times the county’s state-mandated 2.5 percent cap.

Supervisors would have to trim $2 million from the adjusted $30.4 million property tax levy to get it within the cap, said county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch.

The proposed budget, released Tuesday, would raise property tax rates anywhere from 51 cents to $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed value among the various municipalities. Kuntzsch said the proposed tax rates could increase 20 cents per $1,000 in assessed value in each of the municipalities after workers’ compensation and other incidentals are factored in.

View budget

The Capital Region Scene has the proposed budget and the executive summary, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

By the numbers

Here are the county tax rates for each municipality, with the change from the current rate

• Bleecker: $9.62 per $1,000 assessed value, up 8.46 percent or 75 cents.

• Broadalbin: $10.82, up 8.09 percent, or 81 cents.

• Caroga: $21.30, up 7.47 percent, or $1.48.

• Ephratah: $11.68, up 8.25 percent, or 89 cents.

• Johnstown: $12.44, up 9.8 percent, or $1.11.

• Mayfield: $13.04, up 4.07 percent, or 51 cents.

• Northampton: $14.22, up 6.92 percent, or 92 cents.

• Oppenheim: $17.98, up 8.05 percent, or $1.34

• Perth: $16.87, up 8.49 percent, or $1.32.

• Stratford: $15.84, up 8.72 percent, or $1.27.

• Gloversville: $9.84, up 8.49 percent, or 77 cents.

• City of Johnstown: $13.72, up 8.20 percent, or $1.04.

The board has planned two work sessions — at 1 p.m. Monday and again Nov. 26 — to go over the budget. It is scheduled to adopt the budget Nov. 26, following public hearings that day at 1:30 and 7 p.m. The county’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1.

Kuntzsch said the board could apply more of the fund balance — unspent money from previous budgets — to reduce the tentative tax levy and thereby reduce property tax increases overall. The county has a fund balance total of approximately $8.5 million from which to work. She cautioned, however, that using too much of the fund balance could place the county in a delicate financial situation in the future.

The board’s Finance Committee has already applied $1.5 million of the fund balance to the levy, reducing a proposed 15 percent increase to 9.4 percent. Committee members said there is little left in the tentative budget to cut, other than non-mandated programs and services such as the sheriff’s road patrol.

There are no proposals to cut the sheriff’s office. The full board, however, did eliminate two part-time positions by resolution Tuesday. Eliminated was the $15,000-per-year position of youth bureau director and the vacant, $15,000-per-year position of Stop-DWI coordinator.

The youth bureau director’s duties will be handled by the county’s Office of the Aging and those of the Stop-DWI coordinator by the first assistant district attorney in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. These cuts bring to six the number of positions eliminated in the tentative budget. Also eliminated were four full-time jobs: a clerk, two custodians and an account clerk.

The county board gave itself the legal authority to override the tax cap through an earlier resolution. Expenditures in the tentative budget are nearly 5 percent less than in the current budget.

In her budget message, Kuntzsch said the county over the last five years has witnessed a decline in revenues of $7.1 million while seeing increases in health insurance premiums of $3.5 million and increases in costs for mandated programs, such as Medicaid, of $4.1 million. The net effect on the tax levy has been an increase of $8.9 million during this five-year period.

Mandated programs comprise 74 percent of the county’s total budget, she said.

 
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