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Wendel Budget Proposal Calls For Cut In Tax Rate

County Executive PJ Wendel is calling for a property tax rate of $7.80 per $1,000 assessed valuation, a reduction of 30 cents.

MAYVILLE – Like last year Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel is proposing to increase spending but still reduce the property tax rate.

Wednesday night, Wendel presented his proposed 2023 tentative budget. The entire budget is $207,364,119. Of that amount, $69,681,835 is the levy, the amount collected through local taxes.

His budget proposal calls for a property tax rate of $7.80 per $1,000 assessed value, which is 30 cents lower than the current $8.10 property tax rate.

The levy for 2022 is $66,912,293. The proposed levy for 2023, Wendel said, is 4.14% higher, “a relatively small increase in today’s inflationary economy.” He added that the increase in spending is due to contractual increases, unfunded state mandates, and an inflation rate of 8%.

Wendel said a “healthy 8.1% increase in property evaluations” helped him propose the 30 cent tax decrease.

Wendel wants to use $4.5 million from the county’s fund balance. Of that amount, $3.6 million would be for capital projects, $600,000 would be used for one-time bonuses for CSEA, and $292,000 would be used to repay helicopter debt.

The goal of the county’s fund balance is to be between 5 and 15% of revenue. It’s currently at $29 million or 11.6%. Wendel said even with these one-time expenses, the fund balance will be “above the midpoint of our targeted range.”

Some of the key capital projects include new snowplow trucks, a new multi-use athletic facility at Jamestown Community College, along with improvements in roads, bridges, and other county infrastructure.

Wendel is projecting a 6.9% increase in revenue, driven by a $5 million increase in sales tax, $2 million which will go to local municipalities. “The 2023 proposed sales tax is consistent with growth trends prior to the pandemic,” he said.

He also expects an increase in state aid, primarily for health and human services programs.

In 2022, the county had 1,249.79 full time equivalent positions, excluding “enterprise fund positions,” which are positions that pay for themselves through revenue collected, like the county landfill. In 2023, Wendel is proposing 1,284.04 full time positions, an increase of 34.25 positions. The new positions would be for public defenders, school resource officers and emergency medical technicians. Other positions added will expand cold case investigations, emergency medicine and economic development.

“As I pledged in my 2022 State of the County address, I intend to invest in public safety,” he said, adding “these new positions will make Chautauqua County a safer place for all of our residents.”

Wendel said he believes his proposed county budget is both fiscally and structurally sound. “I am confident that the 2023 budget empowers the county to make opportunities a reality and provides for a plan of continued financial success in Chautauqua County,” he said.

Now that Wendel has officially released his tentative budget, it will be turned over to the county legislature for review. Legislators are scheduled to review the budget the first week in October and could adopt it during the Oct. 26 legislature meeting.

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