Press-Republican

October 12, 2012

Franklin County sets tentative levy increase at 5.57 percent

'13 budget boosts jail staff, includes non-union raises

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — More jail staff and road spending, fewer public-bus routes and a higher tax levy highlight the tentative 2013 Franklin County budget.

The plan also includes $75,000 in proposed raises for non-union employees who have not had a pay hike since 2009.

But the exact amount that each person would get from the pool of money has not been decided because the county is still in contract negotiations with the United Public Service Employees Union, its largest bargaining unit.

The overall tentative budget is $99,740,402, a decrease of 11.4 percent from this year’s adopted spending plan.

Should the budget pass as is, the amount to be raised by taxes would be $15,410,538, an increase of 5.57 percent from this year.

The average tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value would be $4.29 compared to $4.06 per $1,000 this year.

A property assessed at $100,000 would pay $22.35 more in taxes than this year if the budget were adopted as presented by County Manager and Budget Office Thomas Leitz.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Two dates have been set for public hearings to allow taxpayers on both ends of the county to learn more about the budget, the county’s plan to adopt a local law to override the state-mandated property-tax cap if necessary and its redistricting plan.

The first hearings are Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

The budget will be discussed at 4:30 p.m., followed at 5 p.m. by a public hearing on overriding the tax cap.

Then, at 5:30 p.m., legislators will take public comments about its proposed redistricting plan.

Public hearings in the northern end of the county are Thursday, Nov. 1, in the fourth-floor chambers of the County Legislature.

The budget will be discussed at 4:30 p.m., followed at 5 p.m. by a hearing on overriding the tax cap and one at 5:30 p.m. on redistricting.

JAIL STAFFING

Leitz said the tax levy would be higher because of a loss of revenue, including a $4.65 million reduction in federal and state aid for roads and the loss of $3 million in payments from the profits at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.

But an unexpected reimbursement to the County Nursing Home this year gives the county $1.13 million to offset operational expenses at the facility.

Another $525,000 from reserves would also be applied to the budget.

The county is under orders from the state to increase its staff at the County Jail to ensure enough coverage for the 24-hour, seven-day facility. The first three of nine positions would be added in 2013 at a cost of $120,000, which includes the fringe benefits, Leitz said.

About $60,000 would be added for highway paving and improvements, and a new front-end loader would be purchased for about $145,000 to replace one from the 1960s.

The Department of Social Services would get about $267,000 for preventive services aimed at lowering the number of troubled and at-risk youths sent away for treatment, compared to the $160,000 budgeted this year.

An increase of about $75,000 would go to the Office for the Aging Expanded In-Home Services to the Elderly Program to help eliminate the existing list of seniors waiting for services that help them remain in their homes longer.

Email Denise A. Raymo:

draymo@pressrepublican.com