County budget projects a $5.5M revenue gap
YATES COUNTY—The Yates County Finance Committee has projected the 2013 county net budget to include a $5.5 million shortfall compared to revenue and expenses of 2012 during their meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2. This puts the current net budget projection at $30,379,663, vs. the 2012 budget of $24,879,385, which is a 22.11 percent increase.
“The number one thing that needs to be kept in mind here is this is just the first compilation of the budget,” County Administrator Sarah Purdy said. “This is not where it is going to end up.”
Significant increases for the new budget include a $1,506,239 increase in economic assistance, a $1,316,241 increase in public safety, a $750,000 increase for the Department of Social Services Family Assistance foster care program, a $623,163 increase in pension, a $357,000 increase in security equipment and a $250,000 increase for the mandated cost of community college.
Purdy said items like community college and pension are mandated by the state, and they are through the 2 percent tax cap already with those two items alone
The committee held another meeting Tuesday, Oct. 9 after the meeting of the legislature to revisit the county capital plan that was first adopted in June.
“They [the state] forced us nearly $900,000 with two transactions,” Finance Committee Chairman Tim Dennis said about the community college and pension increases. “Income has got to come from somewhere.”
The total cost of items in the capital plan as it stands is $3,655,226. The committee highlighted a few areas where costs could be reduced, including a $108,000 roof replacement for the Benton Center. The roof is currently not leaking, but Legislator Richard Willson said the roof is nearly 60 years old and any problems to occur could cause significant damage.
Dennis asked the committee if it was necessary to replace the roof next year, but the committee agreed it was of importance and would push back other projects that will need to be addressed in the future. Legislator Mark Morris, County Chairman Taylor Fitch and Dennis proposed footnoting this item to say the county will fund the roof replacement if they can get a bond anticipation note for the project.
Purdy also said she would probably be able to work a $89,097 hardware and software cost in the capital plan down to $70,000.
The committee also looked at three different items for communications that total $450,915 for portable radios, two-way radios and tower batteries to be used by county fire departments, emergency medical services, highway departments and law enforcement. Purdy said the county is waiting for word on a grant application for these costs, and if it is awarded, all three of those costs would go away. Dennis said he does not see how it would be possible to get everything done this year without the grant, and the committee agreed in that instance the project would need to be scaled back to at least get started on it.
The committee otherwise acknowledged the other items in the plan were either already cut to the point where they could no longer be further cut or the county was already obligated to pay certain costs. Purdy said the county will continue to look at the budget to see what else can be done to reduce the “considerable budget shortfall.”