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Legislators Continue to Recommend Restorations to 2011 Budget

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Legislators Continue to Recommend Restorations to 2011 Budget

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In their next-to-last scheduled session of budget review, Legislators acting as an Expanded Budget Committee tonight continued to recommend changes to the County Administrator's tentative 2011 budget. Among the recommendations are nearly $200,000 to support five human services safety net programs provided by contract through not-for-profit agencies and partial restoration of funding for the Probation Department's Day Reporting program.

Tonight's recommendations would inch the tax levy increase to just above 6%, compared to the Legislature's initial 5% levy target; tonight's committee decisions, however, may be reconsidered later and will require approval by the full Legislature to become final.

The committee recommended the following changes to the tentative budget:

SOCIAL SERVICES:
$136.812 to support the Therapeutic Day Treatment program for youth with sex offending and delinquent behaviors was approved by a 10-3 vote. It was noted that providing the residential placements outside the community that would be required for the youth referred by the juvenile justice system should the program not exist would cost several times as much.

$19,570 was restored for the Family Resolutions Project related to foster care services through the Franziska Racker Centers was approved by a vote of 9-4; $25,017 for early intervention child and family development services through the Day Care and Child Development Council, was also approved 9-4; and $6,639 for after-hours children's services through the Advocacy Center's domestic violence shelter, approved without dissent--'13-0.

Legislators, also by a 13-0 vote, restored $11,506 for Catholic Charities' Samaritan Center, which provides financial assistance of last resort for basic needs. Legislator Mike Lane descibed the Samaritan Center's programs as "the true safety net, the real bottom of what people need," and essential for support. County funds support staff to administer programs, funding that Social Services Commissioner Patricia Carey noted leverages additional funding of about $130,000.

PROBATION AND COMMUNITY JUSTICE.
By a 7-5 vote, Legislators approved $50,000 to partially restore Day Reporting services beyond the reduction to half-time status contained in the tentative budget. Director Patricia Buechel noted the tentative budget's $100,000 reduction would actually reduce services to less than half-time and said that the partial restoration would enable additional hours for GED education, job training, and other contract services, and would help maintain program effectiveness. A proposal to restore $66,000 for Day Reporting failed by a vote of 5-7.

OAR:
$6,000 in new funding for the agency Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources, recognizing its assistance to the Assigned Counsel program, was approved by a vote of 9-3.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES:
By a vote of 11-1, Legislators restored $4,300 in maintenance of effort funding for the department.

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION:
Legislators, by a 12-0 vote, approved $2,500 in multi-year funding (which does not affect the tax levy) to support review of the County's Agricultural Districts.

Other Actions:

Legislators declined to fund three Social Services contract programs: $10,196 for parenting education offered through Cooperative Extension failed by a vote of 3-8; $16, 731 for mental health education for parents whose children have been placed in foster care, provided through Liberty Resources, failed to win support by a vote of 4-9; $22,660 for primary school family support for students in the Dryden and Groton School Districts, provided through Tompkins Community Action, failed by a 6-7 vote.

A proposal to restore $35,000 to support the Learning Web's career apprenticeship program, through either target or one time funding, failed by votes of 6-7. County support for the program is reduced by half in the tentative budget. Youth Services Director Nancy Zahler said 100 youth will lose service from the cutback.

Potential Tax Impact of Recommendations to Date

So far, the committee has added $394,748 in target spending to the County Administrator's proposed budget. If the committee's recommendations so far were approved, the county's total 2011 tax levy would increase by 6.01%, and the average county tax rate would increase to $6.47 per thousand dollars assessed property value, an increase of 7.93%.

The Expanded Budget Committee has recessed until next Monday, November 1.