A budget that includes a 2 percent tax levy increase to cover jail-related costs has a silver lining for Genesee County residents, County Manager Matt Landers says.
The itemized financial plan for 2023 totals $162,567,180, and although the levy is going up, the tax rate is expected to decrease due to higher property assessments, Landers said after Wednesday’s Ways & Means meeting.
The new jail debt service and additional personnel for that facility “were the drivers” of the spending increase of just under 1 percent from this year, he said. A 2 percent levy increase will be offset by increased property assessments, so the tax rate is projected to drop from $9.18 per $1,000 assessed value to $8.44, he said.
A pubic hearing for the budget has been set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia. Landers expects to have his written budget message ready by Thursday or Friday, he said.
“I try to be short and sweet. And I'll hit on the highlights of the overall percentage increases and things like that,” he said. “And then I'll cover it in more detail with spreadsheets at the actual budget hearing.”
This and future budgets will include a $4 million yearly debt service payment for the new, 184-bed jail facility in progress on Route 5, Landers said. That hefty tab of nearly $70 million has a payback plan for the next 30 years.
“So we're stepping into the cost increases instead of getting hit all at once. In the 2023 budget, we have increased costs for the debt service, and then also some positions, and then the 2024 budget will be heavy with even more stepped up cost increases that'll happen, operational cost increases,” he said. “And then hopefully in the back end of 2024, we can start budgeting for it. We should start getting some revenue with the anticipated boarding of inmates.”
Because of the new, larger facility that will also accommodate women inmates, the county will be hiring six new correctional officers (females, in particular), a maintenance worker assigned to the new jail, and a deputy jail superintendent, he said. Another investigator position being added to the Sheriff’s Office “is long overdue,” he said.
“There's piles of investigations, and it's our commitment to try to … the sheriff wants to protect and serve and I agree with them. This is part of our efforts to provide quality service to the people that come to expect that,” he said. “So those were the drivers (of budget increases) that serve as an in-jail position.”
File photo of Genesee County Manager Matt Landers by Joanne Beck.