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Legislature Adopts 2018 Financial Goal, Fiscal Guidelines for Departments and Agencies

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Legislature Adopts 2018 Financial Goal, Fiscal Guidelines for Departments and Agencies

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In two resolutions approved tonight, the Tompkins County Legislature approved a 2018 tax levy guideline and spending targets for 2018. The tax levy resolution directed County Administrator Joe Mareane to prepare a recommended operating and capital budget that can be supported with a tax levy increase of 2.4%, an increase in line with the County’s estimated tax cap for 2018. The vote on the tax levy guideline was 10-2, with Legislators Carol Chock and Dooley Kiefer voting no. Spending targets for departments and County agencies to use in preparing their budgets were approved by a 9-3 vote (Legislators Chock, Kiefer, and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne dissenting. Legislators Will Burbank and Peter Stein were excused for both votes.)

County Administrator Joe Mareane expects that the 2.4% increase in the County’s property tax levy, which includes a 0.5% increase dedicated to capital improvements identified in the County’s Capital program, will support a maintenance-of-effort budget for County departments, as well as addressing other critical needs and priorities. Departments and agencies will continue to have the ability to request funding in excess of their 2018 spending targets, allowing the Legislature to consider exceeding the Administrator’s Recommended Budget.

The $1.15 million increase in the levy would represent an estimated increase of $24.62 for the owner of a median-valued $178,000 county home. The approved fiscal targets hold targets steady for County departments and include a 2% increase in target for not-for-profit County agencies.

Legislator Chock said she firmly believes that the 2.4% levy guideline, and associated fiscal targets, will not equip the County to address emerging concerns and address uncertainties related to outside funding. Administrator Mareane stressed that this is just the starting point in the 2018 budget process, and that additional money will be allocated to the Contingent Fund to give the Legislature additional flexibility during its review.