Budget Feeling Few Changes

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – Nearing the end of the committee process, few changes have been made to the 2008 spending plan that was originally presented in the beginning of October.

County Administrator Phil Church said, thus far, the recommended changes would have little affect on the bottom line.

“Thus far, it would be minimal,” Church said.

Church noted, however, that the committee process is not complete. He pointed out that the Finance and Personnel Committee has slated a special session for Nov. 19 to discuss the jurisdictional committee recommendations.

“They can make additional changes if they want at that meeting,” Church said.

To date, Church said that the committee recommendations for changes could add approximately $75,965 to the budget total.

“The changes are just recommendations at this point,” Church said. “They haven’t been approved by Finance and Personnel.”

Within the recommended changes, Church noted that several were made to clean up “key punch errors” made when the proposed budgets were published.

Among the recommendations, committees have:

  • Added $30,000 to clean an error in Solid Waste
  • Added $25,000 to overtime in the county E-911 department
  • Moved $2,000 from the District Attorney’s travel line to the medical fees line
  • Added $30,000 that was inadvertently removed from the Board of Elections for inspector pay
  • Moved $1,800 from lines in the County Clerk budget to lines for records management
  • Reduced a salary line in county planning by $2,685 after a title correction
  • Removed $3,000 from the tourism’s Pro-Am Tournament line and added $2,202 to a revenue line in that department for tourism matching funds
  • Added $5,000 to the revenue line for HEAP for the Office for the Aging and reduced a federal funding line in that budget by $10,552

“That works out to $75,965 in changes,” Church said. He noted that the amount is equivalent to a fraction of one percent of the budget, which is approximately $400,000.

In addition to the Finance and Personnel session, Church noted that other committees may slate special sessions to discuss spending plans for authorized agencies. He noted that any changes will be included in the Finance and Personnel discussion.

Overall, Church said that the budget discussions in committee have been positive.

“When I met with department heads, they all seemed to understand our budget goals for 2008,” Church said. “I don’t think they were surprised by the proposals.”

While personnel has been a “hot button” item for several departments, Church said that the county’s administrative staff was also aware that additional staff was not in the goals for 2008.

“They knew that getting positions would be very difficult this year,” Church said.

In his first year of putting together the county’s entire spending plan, Church said that the process has been relatively smooth.

“I appreciate all of the cooperation that I received this year,” Church noted. “The department heads prepared their budgets and back up in a very thorough manner, which really helped me to put this budget together. I always appreciate their hard work.”

In his budget message Oct. 2, Church said that the $174,390,324 tentative budget lowered the real property tax levy by $2,080,663, or 5.5 percent. Combined with an additional $264 million of full value in the county, the levy cut translated to a generic tax rate decrease from $7.99 per thousand of assessed value to $7.14 per thousand, or 10.6 percent.