LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County’s surplus grew by $2.5 million in 2018 to more than $45 million.

According to a report by County Treasurer Joseph G. Keller, $36.9 million of the total is in the undesignated fund balance. That means it can be used for anything from reducing property taxes to paving roads.

At the end of 2018, the fund balance stood at $45,015952, up from $42,515,532 at the end of 2017, the county treasurer stated in his annual report to county lawmakers.

Four significant factors contributed to the surplus, Keller said:

  • None of the $2.5 million appropriated from the fund balance in 2018 was used.
  • General sales tax revenues were $1,050,000 over budget.
  • The county’s self-insured health plan came in $675,000 under budget.
  • Workman’s Compensation claims came in $917,000 under budget.

Keller said the figures do not include final balances for the county’s two nursing homes in Olean and Machias, which are not available yet.

The county’s formal audit is expected to be completed and presented to the County Legislature next month.

Keller’s annual report, issued a month or so prior to the formal audit by an outside auditor, provides the first indication of the potential size of a budget surplus or deficit.

A few years ago the County Legislature approved a target of keeping a surplus equal to at least 17 percent of annual budget.

Last week, legislators asked Public Works Department officials to come up with a list of roads in need of paving if an extra $2 million from surplus was available.

Legislator Andrew Burr, R-Gowanda, suggested the $2 million figure, which was quickly endorsed by Legislator Joseph Snyder, R-Ischua, a member of the Public Works Committee.

County Administrator Jack Searles said he would be more comfortable if legislators waited until the formal audit before committing $2 million from the county surplus.

The 2019 county budget contains $5 million for road paving across the 400 miles of county roads. The full $2 million would probably pave and surface treat another 20 miles of county roads.

County legislature Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean, said the additional funds for paving “is fine with me. All the roads in Western New York are in bad shape. We can use all the money we can get.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)