MAYVILLE - Each of the four changes made to the tentative 2012 budget by the Audit and Control Committee on Friday saw bipartisan support.
The changes dropped the tentative budget by $3,367,040, which also cut next year's prospective tax increase by 51 cents - for a possible increase of 62 cents per thousand, not $1.13.
Of the four changes made Friday, only one actually cuts the budget. The other three use money available to the county in 2012 to drive down the tax levy and defer payments until 2013.
Legislator Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, at left, discusses a budget issue Friday with Audit and Control Committee Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
County Executive Greg Edwards has since said that he was encouraged by the thoughtful approach which the legislators took to the budget, though he's discouraged that the changes push off costs until 2013.
"I knew going in, as I had just spent eight months working and building the budget, that it was already very conservative and had cut services to a painful level, services that people want," Edwards said. "So I wasn't surprised to see a lot of angst and anxiety on the part of the legislators with their inability to find the silver bullet because there is none. There is no silver bullet solution."
Much of the conversation during the legislature's final day of budget review, Edwards said, was thoughtful and non-political.
"There was a lot of emotion in a good sense because people were invested in the conversation and were free to state their opinions and minds and many times they were able to articulate with evidence what they thought about issues as proposals," Edwards said. "I was frustrated that the lion's share of (the changes) just pushes it off until tomorrow instead of taking care of the problem."
In addition to decreasing the amount budgeted for the housing of juveniles in 2012, the Audit and Control Committee made three other changes Friday. The tentative 2012 budget now includes the use of $1.7 million in fund balance revenue from the county's landfill. A total $280,000 in payments due in 2012 will now be paid in 2013. And finally, the way in which all capital projects are to be funded in 2012 has been changed, resulting in a $1.1 million reduction to the tax levy.
"I don't fault that analysis," Edwards said of the committee's changes. "Those were the decisions that they made and now that leaves it to the full body to analyze it in more detail - and I hope that happens. So I hope that individually and collectively that the legislature still continues to analyze this in more detail. In April, after much work, we provided them with every program, every cost, every number of employees and the ramifications in state and federal dollars, everything that they have been talking about. So, there was a lot of work on the front end to make this a thoughtful process and I think that played positively into the conversation that we've seen so far."