Tentative 2014 county budget unveiled
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO October 22, 2013 No layoffs. No service cuts. No use of fund balance (surplus).
In fact, the tentative 2014 Sullivan County Government budget comes with a restoration of funds and personnel to several county offices and affiliated agencies.
However, if legislators agree to the tentative budget filed yesterday by Acting County Manager Josh Potosek, taxpayers will see a 3.59 percent increase on their county bills, which will raise the near-$2 million needed to carry out the $199.7 million budget’s priorities.
Still, it’s almost certain legislators will tweak the budget before it’s adopted in December, and a variety of figures i.e., how much health insurance premiums will rise, how close 2013 revenues will hew to estimates, and whether or not the solid waste user fee will be changed aren’t yet available to be plugged in.
Plus, legislators still have to vote on whether to exceed the tax cap (as this budget proposes to do). According to county calculations, the cap would allow for an up-to-2.12 percent increase.
So it’s not a done deal yet.
Potosek has prepared seven county budgets in his time as the county’s Budget Commissioner, but this is the first time he’s overseen the process as acting county manager.
It’s also the first time he’s submitted the budget this early, thanks to legislators who wanted to see the figures sooner than the charter-mandated Nov. 15 submission date.
But the increased authority and time pressure didn’t seem to faze him.
“The numbers are the numbers are the numbers,” Potosek observed. “Ultimately I would have liked to get to the cap or lower, but with what we’re working with, it’s hard.”
He was gratified, however, to add some items that could help cash- and personnel-strapped departments.
The proposed budget includes these new or restored positions:
• A buildings engineer in Public Works
• Two more road patrol deputies in the Sheriff’s Office
• Another probation officer and a part-time clerk in Probation
• Three new caseworkers in Child Protective Services
• Another Veterans Services Agency officer
The budget also:
• Restores Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 2012 county funding to $415,000
• Adds $24,000 to the $51,000 already contributed to the Partnership for Economic Development
• Increases funding to the Youth Bureau by $10,000
“I believe this document represents a positive step forward and hopefully signals an improving position for Sullivan County,” Potosek said.