Livingston County Board of Supervisors passed the county’s 2013 budget Nov. 14 with a tax rate increase under the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap.
The tax rate increase is 1.23 percent or 9 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value; the tax levy increase is 1.93 percent or $478,208.
Total expenses for the 2013 budget come to $145.5 million — a 2.34 percent or $3.3 million increase.
The budget is a 12-month living document, Livingston County administrator Ian Coyle said, which means that while a budget is set in place, it’s not set in stone. The county can’t spend more than adopted, but the county will try to keep its spending less if possible.
Doing so will be a challenge, however, considering rising costs. Pensions and Sheriffs Office costs will rise $1 million each, plus other rising costs in highway, public health and social services.
A wrinkle in the budget process has been the bill for community college chargeback payments being in a little more than expected. Coyle said the chargeback amount has increased a half-million dollars more than expected — at $2 million, and the county is hopeful that it has appropriately projected the amount at $2.1 million for 2013.
On a positive note, Livingston County’s sales tax revenues are booming, and are projected to come in around $30 million at the end of this year. For the first six months of the year, Livingston County's sales tax increase over the same period last year was the second-highest percentage in New York state. Coyle attributes buy-local campaigns as a factor to this success.
Another positive is the increased revenue from the county jail through out-of-county inmate boarding. About 80 percent of that extra revenue will go into a debt reserve fund, which Coyle hopes will help pay down the county’s debt sooner than originally anticipated.
Other positives include the county’s skilled nursing facility remaining self-sufficient, and its insurance costs through New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal remain flat.
Coyle said the successful county budget is a reflection of performance standards, and said the county is not going to rest on its laurels.
To view the budget online, go to www.co.livingston.state.ny.us. A summary version, called Budget In Brief, is available to view as well as the county’s full budget.