JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County officials expressed hope Tuesday the county's proposed 8.2 percent average property tax-rate increase for 2013 can be reduced in the next few weeks.
The Board of Supervisors accepted the county's tentative $88.8 million 2013 budget at the County Office Building, which sets in motion further budget review.
County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch told the board the county has until Dec. 20 to adopt the budget, but usually does so by late November or early December in order to get tax bills out.
Fulton County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch gives a presentation on the county’s tentative 2013 budget to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. At left is Caroga Supervisor Ralph Ottuso.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
"I'm hopeful during the board's budget workshops, we'll continue to close the [tax] gap," Kuntzsch said.
The average tentative tax rate is $12.52 per $1,000 of assessed property value and the current rate is $11.57. The tentative tax levy - the amount of money raised in taxes - is $30.4 million, which is 9.4 percent above the 2012 levy of $27.7 million.
The levy increase is above the county's state-imposed 2.5 percent cap on a tax-levy increase. County supervisors already voted - to have the option available - to override the cap for 2013.
Fulton County's tentative 2013 budget carries an average property-tax rate of $12.52 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an 8.2 percent increase from the 2012 budget. Here are rates and increases for each city and town:
Municipality - 2013 - 2012 - increase.
Gloversville - $9.84 - $9.07 - 8.5 percent.
Johnstown (city) - $13.72 - $12.68 - 8.2.
Bleecker - $9.62 - $8.87 - 8.5.
Broadalbin - $10.82 - $10.01 - 8.1.
Caroga - $21.30 - $19.82 - 7.5.
Ephratah - $11.68 - $10.79 - 8.3.
Johnstown (town) - $12.44 - $11.33 - 9.8.
- Mayfield - $13.04 - $12.53 - 4.1.
Northampton - $14.22 - $13.30 - 6.9.
Oppenheim - $17.98 - $16.64 - 8.1.
Perth - $16.87 - $15.55 - 8.5.
Stratford - $15.84 - $14.57 - 8.7.
"I'd like to stress this board decision has allowed us to override the tax cap, but we don't have to," Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, chairman of the board's Finance Committee, said.
Public speaker Fred Castiglione, of 403 Lakeside Drive, Mayfield, let the board know his feelings about tax hikes.
"My main concern is the taxes going up year after year," he said. "I don't like it."
Supervisors set another budget workshop for 1 p.m. Monday in the Supervisor's Chambers at the County Office Building. The board also scheduled two public hearings on the 2013 budget for 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 26 in the chambers.
It was noted via a resolution Tuesday the tentative budget calls for no increases in board members' salaries for next year. The board chairman's salary would remain at $9,880 annually and the other 19 members' salaries would remain $7,505 each.
During a budget presentation to the board, Kuntzsch said nine major state mandated "expense areas" have effected Fulton County negatively.
"The nine New York state mandate [costs] have spiraled upward 22 percent between 2008 and 2013," she said.
Kuntzsch said those areas -comprising 75 percent of the tentative 2013 tax levy - are Medicaid, public assistance, child welfare, preschool education, Early Intervention program, probation, indigent defense, youth detention and pensions.
The budget director said there will be about $8.3 million in county fund balance later this fall, which could be tapped to help reduce the tax levy more. Supervisors have already applied $1.5 million from the fund balance to the tentative budget.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the fund balance is currently about $10.5 million, but when the county takes into account "legacy" costs, it may be down to about $8.3 million. Those costs include the closeout of the former Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility's enterprise fund.
Kuntzsch reviewed several tables with supervisors on where the county budget goes. Expenditures in the $88.8 million budget are as follows: 55 percent - human services; 24 percent - financial services; 18 percent - physical services: and 3 percent - debt service-capital. Another table of "where the money comes from" breaks down this way: 34.1 percent - real property taxes; 27.3 percent state-federal aid; 19.3 percent - sales tax; 15 percent - operating revenues; and 4.3 percent - fund balance-reserves.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.