County to launch budget process

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County government will launch its formal 2018 county budget process on Monday.

An internal county schedule made public says the office of county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch will distribute budget “guidelines” to county departments on that day.

The Budget Office — as it has in other years — will continue the process of laying out a loose three-year budget plan, which runs from 2018-2020.

From Monday through June 16, county departments submit figures regarding payroll line items proposed for 2018 to the county Personnel Department.

County department heads earlier in April began sizing up potential capital projects for 2018.

Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said Tuesday it is still “too early” to tell if 2018 will be a tough budget year for the county.

Kinowski said the full board will eventually decide whether to approve a resolution allowing Fulton County to exceed the state’s tax levy cap for 2018. The state hasn’t set that cap limit yet for the county.

“I think it’s discussed during the budget process,” the board chairman said.

New York state in June 2011 signed into law the property tax cap. The law established a limit on the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. But the cap is a moving target based on submissions with by governments and districts containing exemptions, and it can come in higher or lower than 2 percent.

Kinowski said the first year Fulton County chose to override the cap was done early in the budget process. In recent years, he said supervisors have worked to reduce taxes and get the levy under cap.

The $97.3 million county budget for 2017 adopted last fall by supervisors decreased the average county property tax rate by 1.6 percent. The budget carried a $27.2 million tax levy. Revenues were budgeted at $54.1 million, reserves at $8.1 million, and fund balance at $7.9 million.

Other key dates in the 2018 county budget schedule are as follows: Kuntzsch’s office reviews and makes recommendations on requested budgets — July 20-Aug. 11; Board of Supervisors’ oversight committees review and approve final departmental budget requests — Aug. 15-30; budget director files tentative budget with the Board of Supervisors – Nov. 13; board budget review — Nov. 14-24; public hearing on tentative budget — Nov. 27; board adopts 2018 budget — Nov. 27-30.

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

By Patricia Older

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