Batavia Daily News for Tuesday: County Legislature will tackle tough budget (Updated)
Genesee County's tentative budget doesn't have much to recommend itself to a public already strained by a distressed economy. A proposed spending increase of 5.2 percent and an increase in the tax rate of 4.2 percent (41 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation) won't please too many folks, including the legislators.
County Manager Jay Gsell filed the $141 million proposed budget—and let's stress that: this is a work in progress, and the work has just begun—yesterday afternoon, according to the Daily News. Reporter Paul Mrozek says that Gsell expects that "lawmakers will work to reduce those figures before voting on the fiscal plan."
Gsell said this morning he is "cautiously optimistic" he and the Legislature will be able to get the tax rate down to its '08 level.
No jobs are expected to be cut, but 21 vacant positions may remain that way. Also, "all outside agencies" that benefit from some county funding, such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension, will receive the same amount of funding as this past year—except for Genesee Community College, which was already approved for a $50,000 increase.
Mrozek does a great job with this article, extracting the budget essentials and not getting too technical on us. I only had one question that I couldn't find answered: if no jobs will be added to the rolls and no extra funding will be going to outside agencies—why the increase in spending? I put in a call to Gsell to see if we can get a quick answer to that. We should hear back from him by the end of the day.
(UPDATE 2:33pm): County Manager Jay Gsell phoned to explain why the proposed budget shows an increase of 5.2 percent in spending if there are no increases in funding for new staff or outside agencies. He said that it's true that the county will take on no new programs and no new services, but the increased cost of construction materials, fuel and the increase in the funding needed for county health care push up the total spending for the county.
In other news, snow tubing will not be offered at Letchworth State Park this winter. This is a very specific instance of how the state budget cuts will be affecting folks in the coming months. Reporter Matt Surtel writes:
The tubing cost the park about twice the amount of revenue that the activity generated (Park Manager Richard Parker said). He declined to give an exact figure, but said the economic realities kicked in, when the park looked at ways to cut expenses.
Some staffers may also feel the pinch as the park does not plan to take on as many folks as usual this winter.
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