Press-Republican

Tuesday

November 26, 2013

Clinton County set to approve 2014 budget

PLATTSBURGH — The proposed 2014 budget for Clinton County includes a tax-levy increase of 0.8 percent, well below the state tax cap.

The $157 million spending plan would allow for a levy increase of up to 4.1 percent under the cap formula without an override vote being required. The formula takes into account several factors besides the rate of inflation, which for 2014 is 1.66 percent.

“This (staying below the cap) was possible first and foremost because the County Legislature has displayed fiscal constraint to minimize expenditures and diligent use of reserves and fund balances to stabilize budgets in the past,” County Administrator and Budget Officer Michael Zurlo said in his recent budget address to the legislature’s Finance Committee.

“Further, there has been a concerted effort from both management and the labor force to work within the constraints of fiscal uncertainty.”

While the state tax cap for 2014 is based at 1.66 percent, it can be adjusted for growth in taxable property, tort settlements and awards, pension-contribution increases that exceed 2 percentage points of covered payroll and a carryover of up to 1.5 percent of unused tax-levy growth to the following year, according to “New York State’s Property Tax Cap, A Citizens Guide.”

SALES-TAX BOOST

The budget plan for next year was bolstered by significant increases in sales-tax revenue that the county has enjoyed throughout this year. Revenue is about $3.2 million ahead of projections, with the holiday season, typically the busiest sales-tax time of year, still to come.

The county will also get $322,500 in payments for the sale of its home-health-care license last year to a private firm. The payments will be repeated another two years after 2014.

OBAMACARE HELPED

Zurlo said some costs are down. Most notably, the county’s Medicaid costs have dropped due to a state cap and the enactment of the federal Affordable Health-Care Act.

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