MAYVILLE - The county executive did a very good job preparing his budget, according to Fredonia Democrat John Gullo.
"There were cuts there," Gullo said recently. "He made real cuts. The legislature, so far, has not really changed it all that much."
Gullo is a member of the County Legislature's Audit and Control Committee, which met Friday and approved several changes to the tentative 2012 budget.
Legislator John Gullo, D-Fredonia, at left, discusses a budget issue during last week's review process.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
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.
At one point during Friday's day-long meeting, Gullo said he was only supporting some of the changes so that the ideas could go to the full legislature for vote. He also said he would be voting against the budget if the changes are not balanced by actual cuts in the final proposal.
"In the past, I have been very critical of one-time fixes," Gullo said. "I cannot look at what we tried to do (Friday), which was very well intentioned, and say it's any different than what has been done in the past, which were one-time fixes."
"Sometimes you do one-time fixes because, on balance, they're better than not," Gullo continued. "And that may be the way that this legislature decides to go, but I need to be consistent. I was critical of it in the past and I'm going to be critical of it now. It's a balance issue. If we're pushing this off because of a hope and a dream and the dream doesn't come true, you're in a worse position - and that is not the way I run my home, it's not the way I run my business and it's very difficult for me to decide to run it that way here."
With mostly all of Audit and Control's changes having been non-cut changes, Gullo said his vote is still open - especially as he will not be in office next year to "clean up the mess" of pushing off expenses due next year.
Gullo is the District 25 legislator, which covers a portion of the village of Fredonia and a portion of the town of Pomfret. He was elected to office in 2009 and at that time said he would serve only one term. Running for his seat this November are former Fredonia mayor Michael Sullivan on the Republican line and former public defender William Coughlin on the Democratic line.
As it stands, the tentative 2012 budget is now down a total of $3,367,040 from the county executive's proposal.
The initial 12.67 percent tax increase has been cut to a 7.01 percent tax increase, which means the rate per thousand now stands to rise 62 cents - not $1.13.
County Executive Greg Edwards had proposed to take the tax rate from $8.90 per thousand to $10.03, an increase of $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. As a result of Friday's changes, the 2012 rate is now tentatively $9.52 per thousand.
Despite the changes made by the committee, the tentative 2012 budget still exceeds the state's tax cap limit by $2,016,997.
The one actual cut approved by the committee was to the Human Services area of the budget, to reduce the amount of money earmarked for the housing of juvenile delinquents in 2012. The $200,000 cut drops the amount budgeted from $1.2 million to $1 million.
The housing of juvenile delinquents, however, is a mandated cost. Therefore if the department comes in over its adjusted budget of $1 million, the county will still have to pay the additional costs - making the $200,000 cut more like the three other changes made Friday to the budget.