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Tentative budget shows 10.9 percent tax increase   ADVERTISEMENT

Tentative budget shows 10.9 percent tax increase

YATES COUNTY—Yates County Administrator and Budget Officer Sarah Purdy said the recently released 2014 tentative budget contains a 10.9 percent tax levy increase, or $1,600,034. Purdy released a narrative on the budget, in which she said “The tentative 2014 budget reflects the continued struggle to maintain core county services with dwindling revenue and eroding fund balances.”
Purdy said the legislature will again be able to make cuts to the budget during upcoming workshops scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 28 and 29 starting at 9 a.m., but she said it will be difficult to maintain the same county services with additional cuts.
“Unfortunately, the effect of reductions most likely will be to defer capital needs and to eliminate innovative ideas from the management team that increase efficiency,” Purdy said. “These will be difficult decisions to make in an effort to balance operational essentials with taxpayer needs.”
Purdy also commented on the state of the county’s fund balance, saying the current way the legislature uses it to offset the tax levy is unsustainable. Purdy said in the general fund, state aid is increasing only $21,396 while federal aid is decreasing by $141,975. She said this results in “continued increases in the local share of the cost of these mandated programs, most of which are in the human services arena.”
The finance committee held a special meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15 prior to their regular legislative session in which County Treasurer Winona Flynn said the projected unassigned fund balance for the end of 2013 is $4,144,131, which is down from last year’s $4.7 million. Purdy said the county is “not replenishing fund balance to the extent that we are using it.” She said she had initially given a projection that claimed the fund balance would “run dry” in  2017, but now she said it is looking like it will run dry sooner.
“Since 2007 auditors made comments about the need to monitor the fund balance,” Purdy said. “I think we kind of see why here.”
She said the county has been unable to offset costs with local revenue, as the projected revenue for 2014 is down $418,613, or 3 percent from the current year.
“Without a large revenue generator such as a shopping mall or an active landfill, it has not been possible to reduce costs sufficiently to avoid a tax levy increase of the amount proposed while also maintaining core services that the Yates County public expects,” Purdy said.