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Borrello Set To Release Tentative Budget

Left, George Borrello, county executive, with his “Bushel Full of Pennies” during his 2019 tentative county budget presentation last September. Borrello will be presenting the 2020 tentative county budget Wednesday during a regular voting session meeting of the Chautauqua County Legislature, which starts at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building, located at 3 N. Erie St., Mayville. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

MAYVILLE — Due to new state laws, George Borrello, county executive, said he might need a “Barrel Full of Pennies” to demonstrate how unfunded mandates have placed more pressure on the 2020 tentative county budget.

On Wednesday, Borrello will be releasing his tentative budget proposal during a regular voting session meeting of the Chautauqua County Legislature, which starts at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building, located at 3 N. Erie St., Mayville.

Last year during Borrello’s first tentative budget presentation as county executive, he literally used a “Bushel Full of Pennies” to demonstrate the importance of how small incremental savings found in each department’s budget adds up to savings.

“I told the department heads and managers at the beginning (of the budget process) that from where we are starting this year, we’re going to need a ‘Barrel Full of Pennies’ instead of a bushel,” he told The Post-Journal.

Borrello said since the state budget was passed in April, several unfunded mandates have been handed down to counties.

“There is early voting and bail reform, and other things that involve our social service programs,” he said. “It puts a tremendous strain on our budget. It’s unknown how these changes will have an impact in 2020. As a result, I’m trying to be as realistic as possible because of the several unknowns we’re facing in 2020.”

In a news release last week announcing the tentative budget presentation, Borrello said he “holds the line on taxes” in the tentative budget.

“Essentially my tentative budget will not present a tax rate increase,” he said. “I will layout the details on Wednesday on how we got there as part of the presentation.”

Borrello said one of the more challenging aspects of creating the tentative budget was trying to balance the needs of the District Attorney’s Office because of new criminal justice reforms. Patrick Swanson, county district attorney, has announced publicly that he has requested in his department’s budget an additional assistant district attorney, a paralegal and a part-time investigator.

“My control is over the dollars. With every department I went back to them with a realistic dollar figure and how they choose to spend is up to them,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but I’m trying to meet as many of the needs of the (district attorney) as possible.

Earlier this week, John Griffith, county emergency services director, said the Public Safety Committee has requested in his department’s 2020 budget a fourth mobile emergency medical services vehicle, which are also known as “fly-cars. He said year-to-date, the car located in Sheridan has answered 770 calls, the one in Mayville has answered 848 calls and the one in Falconer has responded to 1,489 calls. He added the one in Falconer has answered substantially more calls because it’s located in a more heavily populated area.

Griffith said he would like to locate a fourth car in Ashville to help lower the number of calls the Falconer vehicle is responding to so all four locations have a more evenly distributed amount of responses.

“Right now, in the tentative budget we are looking at an opportunity to expand fly car services,” Borrello said. “We expanded it to a 24/7 operation this year so it will be a challenge to expand it further, but we’re looking at everything we can. There will be more details during the budget presentation.”

After Borrello presents his budget, county legislators will begin their review of it the week of Oct. 1 by meeting with department heads and determining if any additional modifications are needed. They will then need to pass a final budget for 2020 by Dec. 1.

The tentative budget presentation is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. Residents can also watch the meeting live online by visiting facebook.com/chautauquacountygovernment.

“We’re going to present a responsible budget with realistic expectations,” Borrello said. “We have a great bipartisan legislature that will pass through a final budget that is responsible and fair to the tax payers while still delivering the services the public needs.”

Copies of the 2020 tentative budget presentation and the Chautauqua County 2020 tentative budget will be available online by Sept. 30. The presentation will be available on the county executive’s website at co.chautauqua.ny.us/186/county-executive and the tentative budget will be available on the finance department’s website at co.chautauqua.ny.us/213/finance.

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