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County uses fund to lower levy hike

October 18, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County supervisors on Wednesday said they will use $1 million from the county fund balance to help reduce the proposed 2013 tax-levy increase to 11 percent.

The increase is above the county's state-imposed 2.5 percent cap on a tax-levy increase.

The proposed levy increase had been about 15 percent, but applying $1 million from the fund balance lowers the proposed levy from $31.8 million to $30.8 million.

The Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee conducted a second budget review workshop Wednesday. Several supervisors said they were in a quandary about what else can be cut without laying off personnel.

"There's not a lot of room in there [to cut] for anything, as far as I can see," said Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, committee chairman. "It cuts close right now."

The committee scheduled another budget session for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 25 at the county building. It may be the last session until the 2013 tentative county budget is released.

Fact Box

Budget data

Proposed 2013 budget amount at this time: $88 million, down from $94 million in 2012.

Estimated tax-levy increase at this time: 11 percent.

Fulton County's state-mandated tax-levy cap: 2.5 percent.

Estimated amount in county fund balance - $10.5 million to $11 million.

County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch is scheduled to release the tentative budget Nov. 13. The board doesn't usually adopt a final budget until late November or early December.

County Treasurer Terry Blodgett on Wednesday estimated the county has about $10.5 million to $11 million in the fund balance. He said there are many factors to consider such as leftover revenue from the operation of the former county Residential Health Care Facility, which was sold last spring. Blodgett also said about $10 million in revenues still may come in for the county Department of Social Services, but he's not sure of the exact figure yet.

"DSS figures are coming in pretty good, but they've been off a million dollars before," Blodgett said.

County officials said they are waiting to find out whether the county can bank more than $1 million owed by the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District for taxes the county paid three area school districts when the regulating district couldn't pay its taxes.

Officials said they are unsure about sales tax revenues for 2013. They also said mortgage tax payments are down.

Officials said three county union contracts probably will remain unsettled by year's end.

Board Chairman Michael F. Gendron said using $1 million from the fund balance to at least get the levy increase down to 11 percent was a "good, conservative start."

The committee discussed at length whether supervisors should apply money from the fund balance now or later to help reduce the tax burden in 2013.

"It's Oct. 17 and we have a lot of variables," Gendron said. "We know we're going to apply fund balance. Why not have a fund balance number that reflects all the [anticipated] information were going to have at that time?"

Still, Gendron said there is much time for the rest of the 20-member board to consider further cuts for next year's budget.

"There may be something they can bring that we overlooked," Gendron said.

Fulton County supervisors used $1.5 million from the fund balance to help lower the tax levy for the 2012 county budget.

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

 
 

 

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