Legislators react to new budget roles
YATES COUNTY--The Yates County Legislature appointed Winona Flynn as the new budget officer Monday, Aug. 10, during their regular meeting. This comes in the wake of County Administrator Sarah Purdy stepping down from the role, having previously served in that capacity for the past 19 years. Flynn said the budget process will be different this year, adding she is hoping for a multi-year focus along with greater efficiencies between the departments.
"One of the main differences will be that now I have put the budget in our financial software package, which is the Municipal Information Systems (MUNIS)," Flynn said. "I think there will be a lot of efficiencies saved because it is now in our financial package so it is tied in with all of our revenue and expenditures, and the historical is there."
Legislator Gary Montgomery described this as "a very big deal," adding while the county has used MUNIS for several years for accounting and reporting, it will now be used to tie in the budget as well.
"There will be efficiency -- significant I hope -- with a single budget/accounting system," Montgomery said.
Legislator Dan Banach said Sarah gave up the job of budget officer because of time limitations from her other job responsibilities, along with situations beyond her control. Legislator Mark Morris said the budget was previously kept in an Excel spreadsheet, adding having the budget in MUNIS will provide several different ways to view the information from is offered through a spreadsheet. Legislator Doug Paddock said MUNIS provides real-time updates and allows more focused reports to be created.
Morris added department heads will also have this information more readily accessible, rather than having to request a spreadsheet. Morris noted Flynn is already familiar with using this software, while Purdy would have had to learn how to use it. He also mentioned he is glad the county will be able to take a more long-term approach to budgeting as opposed to the more year-to-year approach they have had in the past.
"I can do more five-year planning, which I hope to be able to load in and add some of the fixed expenditures going forward five years so we can see where we will be five years out," Flynn said. "I think that will be nice for long-term planning for the county."
Flynn added having the budget in their MUNIS software will help to expedite the budget process going forward.
"I think that will help with the turnaround time with departments submitting their budget and the budget being submitted from the budget officer to the legislature," Flynn said.
Budget season will not come without its challenges though, as tax caps for municipalities are expected to be lower than previous years.
"I think the biggest challenge will be bringing our budget in within the property tax cap, which I'm pretty sure will be a goal of the legislature," Flynn said.
Banach said along with keeping under the tax cap, he also has concerns with how the county is going to maintain progress on maintaining the county highway system. Paddock highlighted his major concerns for next year's budget are also keeping within the tax cap, the cost of mandated New York State services over which the county has little control, reduced sales tax revenue and increases in health insurance costs.
"It will be challenging to maintain traditional services and remain within the cap," Paddock said. "New York State's promised mandate relief has not been forthcoming."