LITTLE VALLEY — There were few changes and no surprises during Thursday night’s Cattaraugus County Legislature Finance Committee review of the tentative $250.6 million county budget.
Expenses are up more than $7.5 million to $250,667,000. The tax levy, or amount to be raised by property taxes, is down more than $1.1 million from the current $243.3 million budget to $55.4 million.
The full County Legislature will conduct a public hearing Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the legislative chambers on the third floor of the County Center here.
County Administrator Jack Searles said after the Finance Committee meeting the good news is that despite increased appropriations, the county was able to reduce the tax levy as well. “The tax rate is down,” he added.
The tentative full value tax rate is $12.33 per $1,000, down 51 cents, or 3.9% from the current rate of $12.84.
Searles said when he introduced the tentative budget on Nov. 6, that a $91.6 million increase in the county’s full value assessment to $4.49 billion is a large part of the reason for a $1.1 million, or 1.99% cut in the tax levy.
In addition, Searles proposed using $3.8 million to reduce the tax levy, up $1.9 million from the current budget.
Searles has pointed out that the tentative budget was more than $3.3 million under the state 2% tax cap.
The tentative budget contains $25.1 million for road maintenance, a figure that increases to $41.1 million when the capital program is added.
The county’s two nursing homes will continue to operate in the black with two rounds of Intergovernmental Transfer (IGT) funding. The county will invest $3.1 million from surplus funds to obtain $6.3 million in IGT funds.
Searls said he budgeted a conservative increase in general sales tax receipts to $16.7 million. It is tempered with the knowledge that the county will have to make up for the state’s decision to discontinue making Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM).
Counties are getting new sales taxes from internet sales and expected to make AIM payments to municipalities.
While the tentative full value tax rate of $12.33 per $1,000 represents a 3.99% decrease, only 11 municipalities will actually get that rate under the budget.
One of the biggest factors in whether a homeowner’s tax rate will go up or down is the municipality’s equalization rate. If home values are not kept current, the equalization rates will drop and local tax rates will go up.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)