Standing committee analyze budgets

Over 30 counties and agencies worked on

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County’s standing committee this week analyzed individual, proposed 2019 budgets for over 30 county departments and support agencies, aimed at finalizing an overall 2019 county budget this fall.

Members of the Board of Supervisors — on the committee level — Monday through Thursday reviewed preliminary spending plans.

The board last Nov. 28 adopted the county’s current $92.2 million 2018 budget that raised property taxes an average of 7.7 percent across the two cities and 10 towns.

Department of Social Services Commissioner Anne Solar said Friday that her agency’s spending plan — the largest in the county — has expenses for 2019 that came in close to $30 million.

“We’re still working on it very closely,” Solar said. “It is a little above [the 2018 DSS budget].”

Solar said the reason her DSS budget “could be” more expense-driven next year is the state’s new Raise the Age law that goes into effect later this year.

Social services units – although promised reimbursement by the state – are waiting to see how Raise the Age impacts them. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in April 2017 signed legislation raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York state from 16 to 18 years old. Young people aged 16 and 17 will no longer be permitted to be housed in adult facilities or jails. Those 16 or 17-year-olds impacted and charged with a non-violent felony or a misdemeanor will be considered an “adolescent offender” protected from adult incarceration.

All that is left for this year’s Fulton County August committees review is the Personnel Committee, which will review county personnel and employee benefits on Wednesday.

Reviewing proposed budgets were these committees, followed by the county-related entities they oversee:

∫ Human Services Committee on Monday: community services, county Office for Aging. Youth, county Veterans Service Agency, Public Health Department, and DSS.

∫ Public Safety Committee on Tuesday: county coroner, Weights & Measures Department, ATI/Pre-Trial Release, county District Attorney’s Office/STOP-DWI Program, county Public Defender’s Office, probation Department, Civil Defense/Fire Coordinator’s Office, and Sheriff’s Department/correction.

∫ Public Works Committee on Wednesday: Planning Department, Facilities Department/Airport, Highway Department, and Water District No. 1.

∫ Economic Development and Environment Committee on Wednesday: historian, Adirondack Local Government Review Board, Solid Waste Department, Soil & Water Conservation District, Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

∫ Finance Committee on Thursday: County Clerk’s Office, Real Property Tax Services Agency, County Attorney’s Office, Board of Elections, treasurer, Information Services Department, Board of Supervisors/purchasing; and budget/audit.

County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch didn’t return calls this week seeking comment.

Her office and the board’s Budget Review Committee will from now until Oct. 19 work to finalize the tentative budget.

Kuntzsch on Nov. 12 will publicly release the tentative 2019 budget to the Board of Supervisors.

From Nov. 13-23, the board in annual session will review the tentative budget and make changes.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be conducted Nov. 26 at the County Office Building.

The Board of Supervisors is due to adopt the final 2019 county budget sometime between Nov. 26 through 30.