Franklin County legislators say they expect to bring the 2012 budget in under the state-mandated 2-percent tax cap.
The tax-levy increase was a whopping 76.9 percent when the budget was first looked at in August, but legislators are planning to lock in at 1.98 percent by Dec. 20.
County Manager Thomas Leitz and County Treasurer Bryon Varin differ on how the feat will be accomplished but agree they will do their best to find the final $300,000 to $500,000 the county needs to make it work.
They will look at a possible combination of borrowing and increased use of fund balance and reserves before the $115.5 million budget is adopted by the Dec. 20 deadline.
The overall tentative budget is $115,514,259, an increase of 4.7 percent from 2011. The amount to be raised by taxes is $16,166,681, up 12.95 percent from this year. The average tax increase per property in Franklin County would be $71.09, if the budget were adopted as is.
Legislators laid off 10 employees and accepted voluntary-employment separations from more than 15 people to bring the tentative budget to the 12.95-percent tax-levy increase.
Leitz said these savings and sacrifices now make the projected 2013 budget stronger, which could help the county avoid layoffs in the future.
Two budget hearings will give residents a chance to comment on the tentative budget and the proposed modifications to reduce the tax-levy increase from 12.95 percent to 1.98.
The first hearing is at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.
The second hearing is at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the legislative chambers on the fourth floor of the County Courthouse in Malone.
Each will be followed at 6 p.m. by a public hearing to override the proposed tax cap.
Legislators said that having the mechanism in place for an override is prudent because a few questions still remain about calculations concerning what exemptions are allowed and which are not.
In the weeks since the tentative budget was presented, county officials have continued to review ways to reduce the tax levy by $1.5 million to reach the cap.
That has included using $776,000 from a reserve fund at the County Nursing Home and raising its anticipated revenue from sales tax by $100,000.
Another $275,000 in savings was partially achieved by canceling the planned $90,000 purchase of a Gradall machine for the Highway Department and accepting additional voluntary-separation agreements.
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