County to see tax rate decrease

PHOTOGRAPHER:
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Gregory Young questions an expenditure as the Fulton County Board of Supervisors reviews the county’s tentative 2017 budget in a workshop Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. At his right is Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Warren Greene.

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County supervisors on Monday used three “major adjustments” to decrease the average county property tax rate for next year, lowering it from the current $10.15 per $1,000 of assessed value.

At the Board of Supervisors’ budget workshop Monday, County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch recommended some changes to the $97.3 million spending plan she released Nov. 14, which would have raised the tax rate to $10.31 per thousand.

Members of the board then suggested several cuts, which were mostly in the range of a few thousand dollars.

But Perth Supervisor Gregory Fagan, a member of the Finance Committee, made motions on three items totalling $900,000 that were approved by the board, lowering the average tax rate below its current level. The exact rate is still being calculated.

“Thanks to Alice and the Finance Committee for all the hard work they did,” said Mayfield Supervisor Rick Argotsinger, chairman of the Finance Committee.

Fagan said all trends show sales tax is on the rise in Fulton County, so he motioned to raise budgeted sales tax revenue by another $300,000. Sales and use tax projections were already at $13.4 million.

“I think it would be a prudent move,” Fagan said.

The board passed the $300,000 addition, with only Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Warren Greene and Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski opposed.

Fagan also called for adjusting the county contingency by $100,000, and the board approved that move, too.

But Fagan saved the biggest application for last, motioning to have the county apply an additional $500,000 in fund balance to the budget — on top of the $5 million the county had already applied to reduce the tax levy.

Following board approval of that adjustment, Kuntzsch said the county’s proposed tax rate was below the 2016 rate — a marked change from the average 1.6 percent rate increase in her original proposal.

Kuntzsch said the average property tax rate was also now below $10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, possibly at $9.99. She said she will work on getting the numbers correct, including municipal rates, before the board’s next budget session at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building. The Finance Committee is expected to meet that morning.

“We will get everything ready to go,” the budget director said. “We can go ahead and adopt the budget next Wednesday.”

The Board of Supervisors will also conduct a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Monday as part of its last budget session.

At the outset of Monday’s meeting, Kuntzsch said revenues in the budget, as it is, total $53.8 million, with fund balance and reserves funding about $15.3 million of the budget. The total tax levy in the county is about $28 million. The county’s total assessed value is about $2.7 billion.

Supervisors actually ended up adding several thousand dollars in various ways to the budget during Kuntzsch’s recommendations, but then wiped them  out with one move. That move was to pull $23,173 out of the budget that was originally earmarked for a scanner.

Johnstown Town Supervisor Jack Wilson recommended the county put $5,000 into the budget for Fulmont Community Action Agency next year, but the motion failed by a 346-184 weighted vote.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

By Patricia Older

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