November 8, 2011


Agencies make final spending pleas

Legislators consider ’12 budget restorations as final workshop set for Thursday

Staff Reporter

Cortland County legislators recommended restoring about $27,000 to the Coroner’s Office, among other more minor additions to the 2012 tentative budget at a fourth Budget and Finance workshop on Monday.
Officials hope $71,776 in decreases in Mental Health Department salaries will offset the proposed moves to restore spending in other areas.
No reductions to the plan have been proposed.
To date the budget workshops restorations total $59,326, leaving the county only about $12,450 to offset and still all the contract agencies to consider.
The Cortland Community Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals alone is requesting $12,000 more to maintain operations.
Budget and Finance officials will make their final recommendations Thursday at another workshop held after their monthly committee meeting.
Officials are reluctant to raise the $32.4 million tax levy, which is a 4.3 percent increase over the 2011 levy, but still under the state’s so-called 2 percent cap.
The total budget is $119.8 million.
County Coroner Whitney Meeker told county officials Monday that the office will exceed the $132,400 budgeted for 2012, considering a new contract with TLC Emergency Medical Services and the unpredictable nature of the office.
TLC’s new contract, starting in 2012, will charge a base fee of $400 per trip plus mileage from the point of pick up to the delivery at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton.
Meeker said transportation expenses will increase as a result but there is no way to predict how much.
The current agreement charges the base rate plus mileage from the county line to the hospital. The agency transports bodies for autopsies, which are performed at Lourdes.
Officials granted her $27,240 to help cover the costs associated with performing autopsies.
Legislators also restored a total of $32,086 in other areas.
The Board of Elections was granted $1,300 for various salary adjustments, $2,250 was added to Public Health for medical fees and services and handicapped children, $5,023 to the Highway Department for professional services, $200 to the Probation Department for education and training and $1,200 for fuel in the Fire and Emergency Management Office.
Buildings and Grounds had about $860 added for a salary adjustment, $2,500 was added for a custodial contract within the Area Agency on Aging, while $350 was added for Red Cross training in the Safety Office.
Officials restored $7,000 to the Highway Department for the household hazardous waste program.
Approximately $11,403 was added in salary and benefits corrections to the District Attorney, Public Defender and County Clerk departments.
Legislators were not moved by department requests to restore a clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles, $6,000 to the Veterans’ Service office, $6,500 for telephone maintenance in the Information Technology Department nor to restore mileage reimbursements for legislators.
The annual July Fourth fireworks show at Dwyer Park in Little York also will not get county funds next year.
Budget and Finance Committee Chair Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton) said she would want to restore at least some money to all the contract agencies, possibly taking more money out of fund balance if needed.
Considering all the contract agencies’ requests, the county could potentially restore about $50,000. Arnold said this is an insignificant amount out of the total budget.
“Especially for all those agencies do for us, especially the SPCA (services) that we need done,” Arnold said.
The Budget and Finance Committee will pass along its recommendations Thursday to the Legislature to vote on. Legislators must adopt a budget by Dec. 20.


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