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September 11, 2012

 

Work begins on 2013 county budget

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandardnews.net

Cortland County department heads are drafting budget requests for 2013 that are being presented to County Administrator Martin Murphy this month.
Murphy says he has met with about six of the 27 department heads so far and plans to confer with the rest before the end of the month.
He says he is on track to complete a tentative 2013 county budget by Oct. 17.
Murphy would not comment on what areas he thinks he will have to cut next year. The 2012 tax levy is $32.4 million and spending totals $119.8 million this year.
In July the Legislature directed Murphy to craft a budget for next year that stays within the state-mandated 2 percent cap on tax levy increases.
An allowable tax levy increase in 2013 will be $1,066,000, which reflects a 3.3 percent tax levy increase allowed under the state’s tax-cap formula. Murphy has said staying within the tax cap will be very difficult.
Murphy has not requested departments to cut by a specified amount and is instead evaluating each department’s requests on a case-by-case basis.
Murphy has given each department a packet with calculations for costs each department can expect next year. Murphy provided percentages for departments to account for state retirement costs, Social Security, health insurance and wage and longevity increases. He did not say what areas need to be pared down.
“Most departments have put together a very conservative budget,” Murphy said.
Planning Department Director Dan Dineen said he met with Murphy and only asked to increase the funding levels for the county’s membership dues in two planning boards: the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Board and the Central New York Regional Planning Board.
Cortland County paid $5,000 in membership dues for each board in 2012 and Dineen has requested to increase that to $10,000 for the Southern Tier East board and to $16,254 for the Central New York board.
Dineen said the county asked for a one-year reduction this year and both boards agreed to that. He was not sure what the boards would do if the county once more requests a reduction.
Dineen said he was not sure if his request for increases in those two lines would be granted but pointed to the fact the department is small and carries a small budget relative to other departments in the county. The Planning Department’s 2012 budget is $296,921.
Sheriff Lee Price said he would meet with Murphy Sept. 26 and declined to comment on his requests until after that meeting.
In recent months, Murphy has mentioned unmandated programs like the Sheriff’s Department, the Highway Department, Buildings and Grounds as areas where cuts could be made.
In 2012, the county appropriated $2.3 million to the Sheriff’s Department.
Budgetary challenges facing Murphy next year as he crafts the fiscal plan include countywide salary increases next year that will total about $800,000, pension increases that will total about $200,000, new debt repayment from culvert and road repair to the tune of about $120,000 and a state aid reduction of about $250,000.
Information Technology Deputy Director Jack Hess said his meeting with Murphy is scheduled for Sept. 17. Hess called the IT budget “bare bones,” saying there is no room for further cuts. Hess said he would request about $100,000 more for storage space and email archiving capabilities. The 2012 IT budget totals $685,526.
“We’ve got to have more storage, we’re running out of storage space,” Hess said.
Probation Director Lisa Cutia said she is trying to “hold the line to last year.”
Cutia said the budget is as bare as it can be and there is no room for cutting so the goal was to not increase spending. The 2012 Probation Department budget totals $1.26 million.
“I’m just trying to ... keep what we have and not add anything in,” Cutia said.
The Budget and Finance Committee will schedule budget workshops after the tentative budget is submitted. A public hearing is expected to be held Nov. 21 on the tentative budget, and Legislature must adopt a budget before Dec. 20.

 

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