November 14, 2013

Input sought on Franklin County budget


---- — MALONE — Legislators will hold public hearings next week on the proposed 2014 Franklin County budget and an override of the mandated 2 percent tax cap.

A budget session will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15, in the fourth-floor chambers of the County Courthouse to make any final changes before it goes to the public.


Public hearings will then be held at both ends of the county to hear comments on the budget and the override.

The tax-cap override will be discussed at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake, followed at 5:30 p.m. by the public hearing on the budget.

Then, at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, the override will be discussed in the legislative chambers of the County Courthouse in Malone, followed at 5:30 p.m. by the budget hearing.

LEVY UP 8.76%

The overall tentative budget is $103,623,666, an increase of 3.09 percent from this year.

The tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, is $16,178,524, an increase of 8.76 percent.

The average tax increase for a home valued at $100,000 would be $35.28.


Discussions at the public hearings will likely include information on state mandates. Local officials complain about programs and services that local governments are required to provide without accompanying funds from the state.

There are nine such programs that officials with the State Association of Counties have identified as accounting for 90 percent of a typical county’s tax levy, meaning they are the biggest drain on county budgets supported by property-tax dollars.

Those nine programs are projected to cost Franklin County $24.4 million next year, but County Manager and Budget Officer Thomas Leitz said the proposed tax levy is just $16.1 million.

He said that means an $8.2 million shortage for meeting obligations to provide these mandated programs: probation, which may cost about $1.1 million; early childhood intervention, $208,000; preschool special education, $1.2 million; indigent defense, which provides legal representation to those who cannot afford it, $1 million; youth detention, $200,000; public assistance and safety-net support, $3.4 million; child-welfare programs, $3.4 million; Medicaid, $10.1 million; and pension expenses, $3.78 million.

“If it were not for the ‘9 for 90’, we would have no tax increase, and I’d be shoveling millions of dollars into the fund balance and employee raises,” Leitz said.

“We’d have 10 million bucks to play with.”

Email Denise A.