By MICHAEL ANICH
JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County's tentative 2014 tentative budget carries a nearly 3 percent average property tax rate decrease, but five of the county's municipalities would see a rate hike under the plan.
Fulton County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch gives a budget presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday at the County Office Building in Johnstown.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday accepted the tentative $85 million county budget for next year, but it will be reviewed in future meetings. Supervisors are expected to adopt the 2014 county budget in either late November or early December. The board will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday at the County Office Building to go over the tentative budget.
Supervisors also set a public hearing on the budget for 2 p.m. Nov. 25 at the County Office Building. As part of the resolution to set the hearing, the board also advertised their salaries for 2014. Salaries will remain the same as 2013: board chairman - $9,880; and other 19 regular members - $7,505.
Although the tentative budget shows no increase in this year's tax levy of $28.4 million - and a 2.64 percent average tax rate decrease - five of the county's 12 municipalities would see their tax rates go up.
They are: Bleecker - up 1.8 percent; Ephratah - up 8.1 percent; town of Johnstown - up 0.1 percent; town of Mayfield - up 0.5 percent; and town of Northampton - up 0.3 percent.
City of Gloversville taxpayers would see a 4.2 percent drop in the tax rate, while city of Johnstown taxpayers would see a 2.5 percent drop in the tax rate.
The town of Stratford, which went through a revaluation of properties, is looking at a 39 percent decrease in its tax rate.
Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch gave a presentation on the tentative budget. It carries an average tax rate in the county of $11.42 per $1,000 of assessed valuation - 31 cents less than the current $11.73 rate. She said the budget requested by department heads in July carried a proposed 22 percent tax-levy increase.
Tentative 2014 appropriations in the budget total $85.4 million - a roughly 4 percent decrease in the county's $88.8 million 2013 adopted budget. The new budget is down by $3.5 million from the current budget.
Federal and state aid decreased by 18.4 percent, or $4.4 million. Other revenues in the budget are expected to rise by 5 percent, or $1.2 million. Supervisors previously applied $3.2 million of general fund balance, $500,000 of road fund balance and $64,275 of road machinery fund balance to the budget.
Kuntzsch reminded the board how county government the past few years became leaner and went through a "survival process," doing such things as selling the former Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility and laying off some employees.
"Did it help stabilize county finances?" Kuntzsch asked. "Yes, it did."
Still, the budget director noted the 2008 recession had a major impact on the county and key local revenue sources have not kept up with inflation. She said about nine state mandates also still represent about 78 percent of the county's tax levy.
"We have not regained the revenues for better economic times," Kuntzsch said.
Fulton County's tentative 2014 budget carries an average property-tax rate of $11.42 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 2.64 percent decrease from the 2013 budget. Here are rates and increases and decreases for each city and town:
Municipality - 2014 - 2013 - change:
Gloversville - $8.83 - $9.22 - 4.2 percent decrease.
Johnstown (city) - $12.53 - $12.85 - 2.5 percent decrease.
Bleecker - $9.17 - $9.01 - 1.8 percent increase.
Broadalbin - $10.05 - $10.13 - 0.8 percent decrease.
Caroga - $19.59 - $19.95 - 1.8 percent decrease.
Ephratah - $11.81 - $10.93 - 8.1 percent increase.
Johnstown (town) - $11.68 - $11.65 - 0.3 percent increase.
Mayfield - $12.27 - $12.21 - 0.5 percent increase.
Northampton - $13.36 - $13.32 - 0.3 percent increase.
Oppenheim - $16.66 - $16.84 - 1.1 percent decrease.
Perth - $15.27 - $15.80 - 3.4 percent decrease.
Stratford - $9.03 - $14.84 - 39.2 percent decrease.