No Tax Increase Planned for Lewis County Residents in 2022 Budget Bill | Lewis County


LOWVILLE – With rising fund balances and property tax revenues expected to increase slightly, Lewis County has no plans to increase tax rates in 2022 so far in the budgeting process.

County manager Ryan Piche hosted his annual workshop on the proposed budget during the finance and rules committee meeting on Tuesday night with the full council of lawmakers.

Overall, spending will be about $ 3 million more in 2022 than this year, a variation of 5.9%, with total appropriations expected to be around $ 53.73 million, while the county is forecasting an 8.2% increase in revenue, or about $ 2.6 million, to $ 33.94. million.

“We reflect a lot of additional spending from social service departments that have received additional funding due to COVID,” Piche told the board. “Yes, they are increasing, but they are increasing accordingly due to additional revenues from the state and the federal government. “

Taxes will pay $ 19.78 million in expenses, an increase of 2.2%, and the fund balance will rise to about $ 1.98 million of the bill, a 19.7% increase from the bill. to last year.

The county’s tax rate will remain slightly lower at 7.6%.

“I like the 0% (increase),” said lawmaker Phil Hathaway, noting the increase in gas prices compared to the increase in social security contributions announced for next year. “Usually I would say you have to do around a (percentage increase) … but this year I’m really grateful that you have a 0% because I think it’s going to be hard for people, in especially vulnerable people who are older and may have no other income Social Security is all they have in many cases.

All county fund balances are healthy again this year and the self-insurance fund balance, well above the $ 4 million target for this fund at $ 6.3 million, will allow the county to ‘re-grant employees a month’s “vacation” from insurance payments. A second month is also possible if the board so wishes.

There has been no increase this year for hourly employees due to ongoing negotiations with the civil service union, CSEA, but a deal is about to be reached and the draft budget for the Next year includes a 5% increase in hourly wages for each department based on a combined estimate of the retroactive settlement of wage increases for 2021 and the estimated incremental increase for next year.

County Treasurer Eric Virkler and Mr Piche have also restructured aspects of the budget to reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability.

The entire county fleet of cars and vans to be leased next year with Enterprise, rather than having the budget lines for these vehicles in the capital account, every vehicle is included in the new budget of the department. for which it was praised.

Up to this point, the board had to vote to allocate the budgeted money to each department of the capital account at the start of the year to reallocate what had just been allocated to the capital account.

Likewise, the information technology funds for the equipment of each department have been kept in a “shared services” budgeting area, but now, to create a higher level of responsibility of the departments with their technology purchases and for the responsibility of the IT department with what is purchased, there is a “new arrangement”.

“Each department will be charged an overhead which will be money from its budget and show up as revenue in the IT budget. So every time a department wants to make an IT purchase, they have to go through Connor (Biolsi, IT Director) … to streamline our IT purchases, ”Piche told the Board of Directors.

Mr Biolsi said the change will also help ensure that all departments use the same compatible systems and equipment.

The two high-income departments, the county clerk’s office and the county treasurer’s office, will add less money to county coffers next year.

The Clerk’s Office is expected to bring in 51% less money despite a 15% increase in mortgage tax fees, largely due to the addition of a security guard to the DMV and the significant increase in mortgage taxes. advantages in the department. This year’s budget predicted the department would bring in $ 167,630, but next year around $ 81,255 is expected.

Mr. Piche said he thought that number was conservative.

The treasurer’s office is expected to generate 20.8% less revenue in 2022 due to lower advertising revenue, interest and tax foreclosures and an increase in salaries.

Departments that plan to increase their budget by more than 10% next year include:

Funds were added to allow for an increase in travel that was not as needed in 2020 due to COVID-19, to engage lobbying services to advocate for ATV legislation in Albany, and for increases in 2% salary.

– Clerk of the Council: 68%

A new position, responsible for purchasing, has been integrated into this department, which has resulted in an increase in the budget. However, comments from lawmakers indicated that they preferred the post to have its own budget.

– County chief’s office: + 14.7%

A significant increase in benefits to the department and an increase in the miscellaneous item that is often used for county promotional videos and special one-off efforts that occur throughout the year account for the increase in the budget.

– Office of the Attorney General: + 11.9%

An increase in benefits and salaries was cited as the reason for this increase.

– Planning Department: + 39%

This department will continue to grow with the addition of a community development specialist, although the county bus system managed by this department will continue to be budget neutral.

– Sheriff’s office (with patrol and entertainment): + 13.8%

In addition to vehicle rentals and IT additions, the office requested two new UTVs and Tasers and increased staff, including a new school resources manager at Copenhagen Central School and new part-time dispatch staff. to help reduce overtime expenses.

– Buildings & Land + 12.8%

Vehicle rentals have been added to next year’s budget as well as the HVAC maintenance contract for the Education Center building. Salary and benefit increases impacted that department’s budget, as did a 10% decrease in solar energy savings from the county’s solar array.

A part-time scrap inspection officer has been added as well as a new vehicle lease.

– Community services: + 54%

The county is back to full funding for this department after proactively using a federal funding source to cut administrative expenses last year in the event the state cuts funding as planned. He does not have.

– Information technologies: + 56%

A new employee, a position to cover after-hours services provided by the department, and increased software licensing and network support costs are the main drivers of the increase in the department’s budget. The addition of the old “shared services” budget requests represents approximately 44% of the increase.

The budget targets created in 2015 are still the county’s goals: to maintain a general fund balance of $ 13 million or 10% of combined county and hospital operations; maintain an A + credit rating; and maintain service levels at least where they are.

Mr. Piche told council that even with the capital projects and their associated obligations, the county’s credit is where they want it to be.

“We spoke with surety agencies for two different projects – for the hospital and for our renovation and highway project – and everything indicates that the county’s credit is in excellent shape and will remain so even with the additional debt, ”said Mr. Piché.

The budgeting process in the county began on August 1, when department heads began submitting their financial needs to Mr. Piche.

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