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Administrator Projects More Than $5 Million Budget Gap for 2012

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Administrator Projects More Than $5 Million Budget Gap for 2012

Monday, April 11, 2011
County Administrator Joe Mareane delivered a sobering outlook to the Legislature's budget committee today concerning the County's 2012 budget.

Mareane said projections for the coming budget year show a $5.5 million gap between anticipated expenditures and revenue, were the County to maintain support of programs at current levels, which would require a more than 13% increase in the County's tax levy.

Mareane told the committee, "It's clear that it's going to be a difficult year."

Major drivers include a projected $1 million increase in mandate cost, anticipated increases in health benefits and pension cost (though the County's exact pension cost won't be communicated by the State until fall), and an expected 30% rise in fuel costs. The administrator said assumptions concerning wage growth also will have to be incorporated at some point. Mareane reminded the committee that $900,000 in one-time money had been included in the 2011 budget in anticipation of revenue from mortgage tax, with the prospect of State home-rule authorization to collect the tax still in doubt.

Also affecting resources for 2012 will be a carryover of reduced State support from the just-passed New York State budget. Administrator Mareane said the expected loss of nearly $900,000 will require a prompt mid-year correction to return the County's 2011 budget to balance.

Mareane cautioned that program reductions solely in areas where State support has been cut will not be enough to offset the total amount of the budget cuts. While conventional approaches such as hiring freezes and curtailing discretionary spending might be used, he is asking department heads for other ideas to achieve broad-based ways to find savings to reduce such blunt approaches. The administrator plans to return to the budget committee in two weeks with a plan to resolve the budget gap created by the loss in State support.

The anticipated aid loss for 2011 is down from the initial projection of $1.3 million--'much of the change reflecting the shift away from a planned competitive block grant approach to fund many human services programs.