Press-Republican

Wednesday

November 20, 2013

Levy for proposed Essex Co. budget up 15 percent

Part of 5-year plan to stabilize Essex Co. finances

(Continued)

To stay within the 2 percent cap formula for the county, the levy could have been raised no more than $392,220, Palmer said.

The budget would hike the county tax rate from $2.44 per $1,000 of assessment to $2.87, an increase of 43 cents.

Palmer said the 2014 budget uses $3 million from the fund balance compared to $6.85 million for the present year.

The budget totals $94.9 million, a .09 percent increase from 2013.

NURSING HOME SALE

The spending plan includes 1 percent pay increases for employees, including elected officials.

One moved that helped the budget is divesting the county of ownership of the 100-bed Horace Nye Nursing Home, expected to save more than $2 million a year. 

The buyer, the Centers for Specialty Care of the Bronx, is paying $4 million for the home, which is represented as income in the proposed budget.

Palmer said the 133 jobs at Horace Nye will be off the county payroll by the first of the year.

NET BUDGET DOWN

The county has a $500,000 deficit in its solid waste budget, and Palmer said they’ll issue a request for proposals for trash disposal when the current contract with Serkil LLC expires soon. 

The deficit represents the difference between what the towns pay the county to dispose of trash and the county’s actual cost.

Equipment costs are down $177,000 in the budget, he said, but some other expenses, such as health insurance, are up.

“The health insurance was up 15 percent, but over all it (expenses) was only up 2 percent or so, because we will have 133 less employees. 

“Really, the net budget from 2013 to 2014 is down 5.71 percent.”

The net budget is the difference between appropriations and revenue other than property taxes. 

Revenue is projected at $72.9 million next year, and appropriations are $94.9 million, so the difference is $21.9 million, a 5.71 percent decrease from this year’s $23.3 million.

IMPROVEMENTS, REPAIRS

Some increases in the new budget are for the county capital fund for improvements and repairs, and to build the fund balance back up from its current low of $5.5 million. 

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