County Panel Ranks Priorities For Budget

Chautauqua County has taken its first steps for the 2021 budget by ranking what should be funded first.

During this week’s Public Facilities Committee meeting, legislators backed a proposal on non-mandated services which they oversee.

Topping the list was the county’s Department of Public Facilities. Under DPF, the committee had subsets and ranked them as follows:

1. Snow removal

2. Engineering

3. Capital bridge improvements

4. Capital road improvements

5. General maintenance of roads and bridges

6. pavement markings

Those six points were all subsets for the Department of Public Facilities.

The second major category was the Chautauqua Rural And Transit System.

The third major category was maintenance of county-owned facilities.

The fourth major category was maintenance of county parks.

“Just because we ranked parks last doesn’t mean we’re not going to fund parks for 2021. It just means that is the lowest priority,” said Legislator Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown. “The committee recognizes that snow removal is number one. That should have the least amount of reductions, if any. Parks has the lowest rating. … That would have potentially the greatest decrease of funding, if we got to that.”

DPF Director Brad Bentley noted that funding for a lot of the things in his department comes from places other than just the general fund. “Parks are funded out of the occupancy tax, not out of necessarily the local share per say. A lot of the other departments have state aid that funds them like the roads and bridges,” he said. “There’s some parts of those budgets that you wouldn’t want to cut because it’s reimbursed.”

The ranking list is going to be presented to the County Executive as he begins budget preparations.

“I’m sure that there will be a lot of work on this budget next year. We have too many uncertainties to even give a good guess on what is going to happen,” said Committee Chairman Legislator John Hemmer, R-Westfield.


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