Committee Recommends Additional Cuts

MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Legislature’s Audit and Control Committee has reduced the tax levy 3.1 percent with recommended cuts.

More ways to save were found by the committee following the second day of budget hearings. Throughout the day, the committee heard from the Public Facilities, Administrative Services and Planning and Economic Development committees, followed by department heads in those fields.

By the end of the day, the committee had reduced the tax levy from Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards’ tentative $64,263,004 in his proposed budget to a recommended $62,273,004. The 2013 levy was $62,135,666.

“Overall, total in the last two days, we were able to successfully diminish the tax levy by approximately $2 million,” said Audit and Control Committee Chairman, John Runkle, R-Stockton. “The full value rate, at this point, the way it stands is $9.098. The 2014 tentative budget, the executive budget, was $9.389. The 2013 rate was $9.152. So, we’ve saved, from the executive budget, $.29, we’ve reduced it.”

Monday, the committee had recommended cutting out more than $1 million in Intergovernmental Transfer funding the Chautauqua County Home. With the IGT funding intact, the budget had shown revenues for the County Home to be $19,484,593, and expenditures to be $20,032,911. Without the funding, the home will suffer a potentially larger loss.

The committee also made a $200,000 cut to Safety Net funding, which is associated with Welfare to Work funding, to bring the day’s total recommended cuts to $1.25 million.

Although the motion was voted down Monday, the Audit and Control Committee once again discussed cutting a proposed increase of $500,000 to the Office For the Aging budget. The Human Services Committee recommended bringing the amount down to $250,000 in additional revenue to the OFA. The 2013 amended budget for the OFA was $770,074. Edwards’ tentative budget showed a total of $1,530,461 in local share.

After discussion, the committee agreed to cut the $500,000 from the budget, with the expectation the cut will be discussed by the full legislature.

The Audit and Control Committee also heard from Susan Marsh, director of finance, who informed the committee of additional revenues in the electric fund. Marsh explained when additional revenues are recognized, they are placed in the fund balance. Since the money is placed in the fund balance, the committee recommended reducing the fund balance by $250,000 to recognize the profit from the electric fund.

The committee also made one recommendation for an increase, adding $10,000 into the legislative budget for outside council, should the legislature need it. Downsizing the legislature from 25 to 19 legislators resulted in a total reduction of $56,460 for base pay, FICA and Medicare. It was also noted the legislature is operating at a combined budget for 2014 of $588,368, while the budget in 1998 was $632,000. Additionally, from 2009-14, there was a 28 percent reduction in the legislature’s budget. Legislators chose to increase its budget to $598,368, which would still recognize a savings.

The committee will meet again today to make final changes and draft a budget recommendation.