Press-Republican

November 14, 2012

More Franklin County budget savings identified

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Sales-tax projections were boosted, insurance costs recalculated and land-sale revenue doubled to get the 2013 Franklin County budget under the mandated tax cap.

Legislators may adopt the plan and lock in its bottom line Thursday to allow staff more time to distribute tax bills.

But in-housing tinkering can still take place as long as the budget total doesn’t change, said County Manager Thomas Leitz, who is also the budget officer.

LEVY UP 1.91 PERCENT

In a special meeting Tuesday, legislators were shown 2½ pages of savings, adjustments and corrections to the $99,740,402 budget, which is a decrease of 11.4 percent from this year.

The changes bring the overall tax levy to $14,875,816, an increase of 1.91 percent.

The average tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value was about $4.29 before the adjustments; a new calculation was not available Tuesday. Firm numbers could be released about 10 a.m. Thursday during a work session of the County Legislature before its 11:30 a.m. call to order. The meetings are open to the public and will be held in the fourth-floor chambers of the County Courthouse.

Among the changes discussed was using $175,444 more from a retirement-reserve account for a total of $700,444 that would be applied to offset the tax levy.

REVENUES BOOSTED

Also, the projected sales-tax revenue for 2013 was changed from $20,950,000 to $21 million.

Revenue from a county land sale was upped to $250,000 from the original $100,000 estimate. There are 65 parcels set for auction in the spring, and a few are waterfront properties in the south end of the county that could fetch high prices, Leitz said.

The county also expects to sell the former Alaskan Oil property on Route 11 in Malone, which was part of a Brownfield remediation project two years ago where an abandoned gas station was razed, its underground tanks removed and contaminated soil removed. The minimum bid on that property is $100,000, but it did not sell in previous attempts.

Other adjustments legislators reviewed concerned reorganization of a few departments and savings realized through lower salaries, pension-participation changes for certain employees and a future retirement, which alone will shave $42,000 off the 2013 budget.

Leitz said savings could be projected in unemployment-insurance premiums, which were budgeted at $320,000 this year. Unemployment claims were up in 2012 due to 14 staff layoffs, but no layoffs are planned for 2013, so that budget can be reduced to $288,550 next year.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com