December 15, 2013

Clinton County OKs budget for 2014

Plan features slight increase in tax levy

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators unanimously approved the 2014 budget, which features a slight increase in the tax levy.

“I think this is a very good budget, with a little increase in the tax levy, and it leaves the fund balance in good shape, and it was all done without cutting any personnel or services,” said Legislator Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Finance Committee.

The 2014 spending plan, approved at a recent legislature meeting, shows an increase in the levy of just 0.8 percent and a composite tax rate of $6.07 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the same as the 2013 rate.

The levy increase is well below the state cap, which for Clinton County, would have been 4.1 percent under the state formula.

The county benefited from an outstanding year in sales-tax revenue, as figures are about $3.2 million ahead of projections, with much of the holiday shopping season still to come.

The county will also receive $322,000 in payments from the sale of its home-health-care license last year to a private firm. The payments will continue for another two years.

Another factor in keeping taxes down was a drop in Medicaid costs to the county due to a state cap and enactment of the federal Affordable Care Act, which aided reimbursements to the county for some Medicaid services.

The county also used about $2 million from its fund balance to reduce the tax levy. The fund will be left with about $11.2 million for 2014, which is within the state recommendation of 5 to 15 percent of the $157 million budget.

Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said there is still more work to do.

“This budget is good, but it’s not gospel. There are still a lot of things that the legislature can change in 2014,” he said.

“We shouldn’t rest on our laurels. I think there are lot of things this body can do to make it even better.”

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