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Supervisors eye tapping fund balance for budget

November 20, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - After a four-hour budget workshop Monday, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors lowered the proposed 8.2 percent average property tax-rate increase for 2013 by less than 1 percent.

At their next meeting, supervisors can look to apply fund balance to help lower the overall proposed tax levy.

"Our county doesn't have a tax cap," county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said. "Technically, we don't have a tax cap because we overrode it."

Article Photos

From left, Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael F. Gendron and Finance Chairman Greg Fagan lead the board through a budget workshop Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

The Board of Supervisors will meet again at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building. The board will hold public hearings at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. that day.

Supervisors earlier this year voted to override the state-mandated tax levy cap for 2013. The cap is 2.5 percent.

The county last week released a tentative $88.8 million budget for 2013 carrying an 8.2 percent average tax-rate hike. The average tentative tax rate was $12.52 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The tentative tax levy - the amount of money raised in taxes - was $30.4 million, which was 9.4 percent above the 2012 levy of $27.7 million.

The board Monday conducted a budget workshop at the County Office Building and initially made $6,784 in cuts suggested by county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch.

Supervisors then went through each department, cutting $10,000 from probation investigative services, $5,000 each from the jail's repairs and tuneups and special corrections officer accounts, and smaller amounts such as $2,000 and $1,000 in several areas. The cuts included Fulton County Board of Elections and weights and measures. The board also applied more revenue in areas such as tourism.

When the cutting was all done, Kuntzsch announced the levy was $30.2 million, the average rate would be $12.47 per $1,000, and the average rate increase was lowered to 7.8 percent.

But the board will look to apply fund balance, which Stead said is only 40 to 50 percent actual cash, to the proposed budget to reduce the levy further.

Supervisors already have applied $1.5 million from the fund balance toward the proposed 2013 budget. About $6.7 million remains in general fund balance, officials said.

"At this point, we have to be in the fund balance discussion," said Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, chairman of the board's Finance Committee.

Board Chairman Michael F. Gendron added: "Think it over. This is a very important decision."

Kuntzsch said every $1 million cut from the levy will reduce the proposed county budget 4 percent.

The board asked her Monday to do a compilation of what the budget would be down to if another $1.5 million were applied from the fund balance.

Under that scenario, she said, the average tax rate would be $11.85 per $1,000, the average rate increase would drop from 7.8 percent to 2.4 percent, and the levy hike would decrease from 8.9 percent to 3.5 percent.



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