A Financial Boost

LITTLE VALLEY – A couple shots in the arm have lifted Cattaraugus County finances into the black according to a report from Joseph Keller, county treasurer.

The combination of casino revenue and higher-than-expected sales tax revenue have given the county a financial position of finishing the year with a general fund balance of $40.411 million, compared with a 2013 balance of $30.37 million, Keller told legislators.

While a total of six factors contributed to the $10 million increase, he said two stood out as driving factors. A major factor was the sudden payment of $4,879,217 in casino funds. The other major factor was sales tax income exceeded budgetary amounts by about $1.3 million, Keller said.

Casino funds helped the county to pay off some debt, as well as fund some projects that would otherwise have had to come from other sources. A payoff of outstanding bond anticipation notes was made for $1,634,500. Another $464,428 was used as provision for wage settlements within the county structure. In all, $4,010,250 of the casino revenue was used on projects and payments to bolster the county’s financial position, according to Keller’s presentation. The remaining $868,967.75 has been placed in a fund balance for economic development throughout the county.

Sales tax revenue, according to Keller, has taken the opposite direction in Cattaraugus County of nearly any other county in the upstate region.

“It is kind of unusual that we would see an increase,” he said. “The rest of the upstate area is either stagnate or under the budgeted amount.”

For 2013, Cattaraugus County took in $34,870,744 in sales tax, about $500,000 over 2012, Keller said. Of that amount, the county pushed $15,303,890 into the County General Fund, $9.138 million to the road fund, $9,044,450 to towns and villages of the county and the remaining $1,383,923 used to reduce tax levies in specific towns and villages.

In percentages, the county kept 62 percent, sent 26 percent to towns and villages and the cities of Olean and Salamanca received 11 and 1 percent, respectively. The two cities in the county, Olean and Salamanca, only receive sales tax that is collected within the city boundaries. The rest of the county receives a share of the whole, Keller said.

Other factors leading to the $10 million fund balance increase are unallocated expenditures coming in $1.27 million under budget, none of the $2.8 million 2013 fund balance appropriated was used and inter-fund transfers to road and machinery funds was $1.5 million under budget.