Committee Eyes Tax Decrease

MAYVILLE — The County Audit and Control Committee spared every expense in their suggestions on the tentative county budget Thursday morning.

After a four hour meeting, the committee members came up with a suggested $906,225 decrease to the County Executive’s tentative budget, which would eliminate proposed 10 cent tax hike and would actually reduce taxes by 2.7 cents from the 2017 tax rate.

The suggested changes would result in a tax rate of $8.45 cents.

Committee members include legislators such as ranking member Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Pierre Chagnon, committee chair, R-Bemus Point; Kevin Muldowney, R-Dunkirk; George Borello, R-Irving, and Frank J. Gould, R-Ashville.

The committee made a motion to propose changes to the budget which will be considered at the next Audit and Control Committee meeting to be held on Oct. 19 at 8:35 a.m. in room 331 at the Gerace Office Building in Mayville. If approved during that meeting, the recommendation will be made to the County Legislature, which will then vote on the budget.

Areas that funding decreases were suggested for include a decrease of $118,000 from the deputy sheriff’s road patrol due to retirements with new sheriffs coming at a lower rate as well as a decrease of $50,000 in overtime from correctional officers and a decrease of $50,000 in the contractual line for the jail in regards to the reduction in food expense from the jail. The additional cuts totalled a suggested decrease of $218,000 from the Sheriff’s Department overall.

One full-time assistant public defender was left out of the budget for a savings of $80,000. This does not mean the public defender’s office had a decrease in staff, but rather, was not allotted an increase of one staff member that was suggested.

Gould said he felt it was important to treat the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office in a fair manner, leading to a discussion on opportunities for decreases in the District Attorney’s office expenditures.

Committee members also discussed decreasing costs in the district attorney’s proposed expenditures, but some were adamant about keeping a new narcotics prosecutor that would focus mainly on narcotics. Nazzaro said he would like to keep the position due to the nature of its narcotics focus. Borrello also supported keeping the narcotics position for the district attorney’s office.

A reduction of $68,000 was suggested for the personal services in the district attorney’s office, but was left up to the district attorney’s discretion. The hope is that the district attorney’s office will be able to maintain the narcotics position, while reducing the cost of the personal services line.

An increase of $50,000 to Cornell Cooperative Extension was also recommended by the committee. Emily Reynolds, executive director, came before the committee to express the need for an additional $50,000 for the program which was above the $50,000 included in the County Executive’s tentative budget. Reynolds said the increase was necessary to continue the operations of programming including LEAF, an agricultural workshop series and vegetable programming.

Borrello, Nazzaro, Gould and Muldowney said they supported finding the $50,000 in the budget for the program due to its good work and ability to get students interested in agriculture.

Chagnon said Reynolds has done a “great job” with the program.

After the meeting, Chagnon said he is feeling “pleased and relieved.” He said it was a tough week, and the entire legislature and heads of the departments worked on the process.

“It was the best process I’ve been through during my time on the legislature,” Chagnon said.

He said J. Gould said it was also the best process he has seen in his 16 years on the legislature.

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