County keeps tax levy below cap despite new state mandates
The proposed county budget for 2020 includes a 7-cent property tax rate increase for county residents, up from $10.04 to $10.11, while the county grapples with new state spending mandates but manages to keep the tax levy under the state's 2-percent cap.
The proposed tax levy is $31,015,658, up $759,567.
Mandated expenses, from Medicaid to law enforcement functions, will consume 72 percent of the levy.
Total anticipated general fund expenditures are $114,048,256, or $13,030 less than 2019's.
New mandated expenses include additional services related to the Raise the Age legislation, which now requires most criminal cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds to be referred to a youth court, at $318,373. The state is expected to provide the county with full reimbursement for these expenses.
What is not reimbursed are expenses related to bail reform and new evidence discovery requirements, which require the District Attorney's Office to add additional staff, including a new full-time assistant district attorney, a part-time ADA, and a new paralegal.
The Public Defenders Office is also adding an attorney but this expense will be covered by state aid.
The county will have 452 full-time-equivalent employees.
While the state is pressuring municipalities to enter into more shared services agreements, the county has pretty much exhausted those opportunities, County Manager Jay Gsell suggested in his budget statement.
The county has been sharing services with County Highway and other county highway departments for 21 years. There are also shared service agreements for the Health Department with Orleans County and combined youth services between the county, city, and Orleans County.
The Chamber of Commerce Tourism Bureau has an anticipated budget of $420,000, entirely funded by the bed tax.
A motor pool agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management and energy savings initiatives as a result of consulting with Johnson Controls currently gives the county an anticipated $200,000 in savings.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will take place Nov. 6 in the Old Courthouse. The Legislature will vote on the proposed budget Nov. 25.