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Property tax rate up 1.6% in tentative Fulton County budget

Tentative $97.3 million spending plan unveiled

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County’s $97.3 million tentative  2017 county budget — released today — calls for an average 1.6 percent countywide property tax rate increase.

The spending plan crafted by county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch was scheduled to be reviewed by the entire Board of Supervisors at its monthly meeting at 1 p.m. today at the County Office Building.

“This is the first time the Board of Supervisors will see that budget,” board Chairman Charles Potter said this morning.

Potter, Gloversville’s 4th Ward supervisor, said Kuntzsch will give a more detailed presentation on the tentative budget at the meeting.

The public can access the budget online at the county website: www.fultoncountyny.gov.

Appropriations for next year are expected to rise by $8.5 million, mostly due to construction costs associated with a proposed expansion of the county landfill in 2017. Total appropriations in the budget are expected to be about $97.3 million in 2017.

The tentative property tax levy will be $28.1 million. The average countywide tax rate increase will be 1.6 percent, which Potter said is below the state tax cap. The average rate in the tentative budget is $10.31 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Federal and state aid in the county budget is expected to increase by 2.1 percent, or $425,000 for 2017.

Kuntzsch attached an annual message to supervisors in the tentative budget.

“The Board of Supervisors, department heads and staff have demonstrated consistency and restraint by aligning expenses with revenues, while maintaining services that meet the needs of the community,” she wrote.

She noted the 2017 tentative budget includes a $1.4 million investment in capital projects specifically targeted for economic development. Those would include the county’s Smart Waters infrastructure initiative.

The county’s Budget Review Committee earlier this year already applied just over $5 million in county fund balance to balance the tentative budget.

Potter said Fulton County is among the top performing counties for sales tax in New York state. The county’s share of sales tax revenue was increased by $300,000 in the tentative budget.

Sheriff Richard Giardino is projecting a $100,000 decrease in county jail inmate boarding fees for next year, according to the budget.

Two new positions are built into the budget –a new deputy and new director of communications in the sheriff’s department; and reclassifications of two positions are slated in the Planning Department and District Attorney’s offices.

Overall, county employee benefits will increase by about $1 million, or 7.4 percent, primarily due to a 10 percent increase in health insurance.

Potter said the board today will likely set a budget workshop for this month to try to cut spending further.

“There might be something we missed,” he said.

A public hearing on the 2017 county budget is tentatively set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at the County Office Building.

Supervisors may adopt the final budget following the hearing.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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