December 5, 2013

Franklin County legislators look at 5-percent tax hike

MALONE — Franklin County will likely raise taxes 5 percent in 2014 but use 2 percent of what’s collected to improve its cash flow.

With allowable exemptions and credits factored in, legislators could meet the state-mandated 2-percent tax cap if they raise taxes 2.99 percent.

But that would leave only about $7,000 to use toward any unexpected expenses or budget-projection shortfalls next year.


To fatten the cushion, legislators reviewed a variety of options Wednesday and verbally agreed to raise taxes 5 percent and put whatever is left after expenses into the fund balance.

The 5-percent option will give the county enough money to operate the government and add about $305,000 to reserves.

A State Comptroller’s Office audit earlier this year criticized the county for spending down more than $11 million in fund balance between 2009 and 2013 and recommended the level be built back up.


The proposed budget also includes $45,000 to be put toward raises for certain non-union management employees who haven’t had a bump in pay for four years. During that time, the county’s largest union has seen pay increases each year of its contract.

The county is considering a 1-percent raise for the roughly 90 non-union people while the United Public Service Employee union is to get a 2-percent raise in 2014.

Legislators have yet to reach an agreement with the Sheriff’s Department union on a new deal, but a fact-finder is poised to step in to resolve the issue.

The offer on the table calls for 2-percent raises the first and second year and a 2.5-percent increase in the final year of the contract.

County Manager and Budget Officer Thomas Leitz said the non-union raises would be based on merit rather than across the board. The amounts will be set before the budget is officially adopted today at the regular County Legislature meeting.

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