Yates approves 14.7 percent levy increase
YATES COUNTY—The Yates County Legislature approved the 2013 county budget Monday, Dec. 17, which contains a tax levy increase of $1,875,296, up 14.7 percent from 2012.
The $40,837,455 total budget was passed in an 11 to three vote, with Legislators Mark Morris, Leslie Church and Robert Schwarting voting against it. More than 70 people attended the public hearing held in the Penn Yan Middle School auditorium.
County Administrator and Budget Officer Sarah Purdy said this levy increase will see an $87 increase in county taxes for homes assessed at $100,000, a $218 increase in taxes for homes assessed at $250,000 and a $435 increase for homes assessed at $500,000. She said the primary cause of the double-digit levy increase revolves around $2,023,712 in additional unfunded state mandates and an overall $823,033 decrease in county revenue since last year. Purdy showed the 2013 tax rate, $6.84 per $1,000 of assessed value, is less than nearby Schuyler, Steuben, and Monroe Counties.
County Chairman Taylor Fitch said Yates County is determined to have a realistic budget for 2013, and that they want to avoid “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to things like using fund balance to offset the tax levy or charging community college costs back to towns. He said the county is also responsible for the health, safety and well being of citizens, and that to shut down county-provided services just to lower the tax levy would not be prudent measures to take.
Residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying they do not believe the county has looked at every option for savings because many other counties in the state were able to stay under the tax cap, and that the legislators need to be more aggressive in pressuring the state for mandate relief. While some residents commended the legislature for their hard work on the budget, many were concerned that such a large levy increase would force longtime Yates County residents living on fixed incomes to move away.
The legislature attempted to make two additional changes to the budget before approving it. One came in the form of using money budgeted for a dispatcher position to conduct a study on if the dispatch office can run efficiently without the position. Another motion attempted to move a department of motor vehicles cashier position from full-time to part time. Both motions were ultimately rejected by the legislature.
For a related story comparing Yates’ budget and tax levy increase, see page 24.