OSWEGO, NY – At the close of Thursday’s county legislature meeting, Phil Church, Oswego County Administrator, presented a succinct overview of the county’s proposed 2017 budget.
The 2017 draft budget for the county is $198,530,227.
It includes a real property tax levy $42,979,701, a 6.4 percent decrease.
The full value of the county is $5,527,561,433, which produces a generic tax rate of $7.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value. That’s a 1 percent increase.
By comparison, the current budget is $194,733,416. The tax rate is $7.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value.
The original request for the 2017 spending plan was $204,735,225 ($10.19 tax rate).
“That would have been unacceptable. So, since August and September myself and the department heads worked to bring that number down to the level you see today,” Church told the legislators.
The tentative budget is below the New York State Tax Cap, he said.
“But we still have a lot of work to do on the budget,” he added.
Sales tax revenue, as of today, was on track for the budget, he said.
“There are a lot of other variables that have impacted the budget this year,” he said.
The big item wasn’t the looming loss of FitzPatrick; it was foster care, he pointed out.
The cost to the county looks to increase around $2.7 million.
There’s also an increase due to labor contracts. Transportation and health insurance among others have also increased for 2017.
Some budget lines have decreased.
The legislatures will now sift through the tentative budget looking for possible reductions, and in some cases, additions.
A public hearing will be set in December, followed by the legislature’s vote.
Kevin Gardner, (R) Oswego County Legislature Chairman, said he hopes the county can get the tax rates down to around this year’s or lower.
“We’d like to maintain the same rate as (2016),” Gardner said following the presentation. “We don’t want to raise taxes. We don’t want to raise taxes and we have two months to figure out how we’re going to do it.”
So far, the chairman added, any personnel reductions are the result of attrition and not cuts.
“This is where the process begins. This is the tentative budget and this is where we dig in,” Oswego Legislator (D) Jake Mulcahey said. “The minority caucus has already had a budget meeting discussing where our priorities lie.”
They have another planned to talk about how they can fund those priorities, he added.
“We’re really taking a close look at the budget this year,” he said adding that the county should invest in some of the initiatives it has under way, like the Poverty Reduction Task Force. “We should invest and try to move our county forward.”