Draft County Budget Has 1.01 Percent Tax Hike
Published: November 4th, 2010
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – Chenango County plans to use almost $3.7 million in reserve funds to help offset challenges facing the 2011 fiscal year.

County Treasurer William E. Evans released the 2011 tentative budget Nov. 1, which introduced a $84.1 million spending plan. It was adopted at a meeting of the Finance Committee and is on its way for discussion at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors Monday.

County taxpayers will pay $23,074,933 to fund county government, according to the plan.

The draft budget is a 4.10 percent increase over the 2010 adopted spending plan of $80.8 million.

The $23 million tax levy is a 1.01 percent increase over the 2010 tax levy and represents an average tax rate of $12.73 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The proposed average countywide tax rate will fluctuate, either increasing or decreasing, in all 22 municipalities based on state-established equalization rates.

The treasurer helped stabilize the tax rate by using $3.68 million from fund balance. Though Finance Committee Vice Chairman Dennis Brown, D-Pharsalia, said he was “uncomfortable” with the amount and “worried” that it might not be acceptable to the full board, Chairman Lawrence Wilcox, R-Oxford, described it as “prudent method of balancing what the taxpayers have to pay versus the loss of government aid and rising costs.”

The county began the year with $18.44 million in surplus. Appropriations made throughout the year and the application for next year would drop the general fund down to $13.71 million (as projected at this time).

In the past the county has aimed to retain $10M as a sufficient fund balance. But now, given lost aid and slow growth in sales tax, the treasurer recommended keeping between $12M to $15M on hand.

Evans is stepping down Dec. 31 after 23 years as Chenango County treasurer and budget officer.

Sales tax collections for the third quarter were up 3.68 percent over same period last year. Evans referred to last year’s 4th quarter collections to estimate $6.85 million for 2011.

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