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Livingston County files 2021 tentative budget

Budget includes a tax rate of $7.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of 0.48%

Staff reports
IAN COYLE

GENESEO — Livingston County Administrator Ian M. Coyle recently unveiled the tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2021. A public budget hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 18 as part of the regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting.  

According to Coyle, the 2021 budget goals have been met in their entirety. The goals,  developed by the Livingston County Board of Supervisors and Administration, are to: (i) deal  with the financial and operational impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting “new normal”, (ii)  align the budget with the County’s Strategic Plan, (iii) present a practical, responsible budget  that delivers core County services in a cost-effective manner, (iv) comply with the tax cap, (v)  use conservative estimates, (vi) fund priority projects and programs, and (vii) maintain services  and programs.  

Coyle recommends a balanced budget of over $164 million that includes a tax rate of $7.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This represents an increase of 0.48% and a levy increase of approximately 1.02%. The budget is compliant with the State Property Tax Cap law.  

As in previous years, sales tax will continue to be the largest source of non-property tax  revenue for the County. Because of the continued uncertainty with the economy due to the  COVID-19 crisis, Livingston County is projecting zero budget growth from sales tax in 2021. This is also due, in part, to the State taking away a sizeable portion of sales tax revenue to pay for state aid to towns and villages and a distressed hospital fund. 

A new revenue stream included in the 2021 tentative budget is a mortgage recording fee of  0.25%. This was approved in 2019 by the State Legislature and reduces the demand on the  property tax levy by over $450,000. Other sources of revenue beyond sales tax and the   mortgage recording fee are state and federal aid, interdepartmental and intergovernmental  revenues, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), and additional interest earnings. 

State mandates for Medicaid, State pensions, community colleges, probation, pre-kindergarten  special education, and a multitude of social services programs continue to represent the largest expense concern to the County. Because the State is now withholding state aid for these local costs, county taxpayers will be directly impacted.  

The 2021 tentative budget includes support for capital project needs such as building  renovations, software and hardware upgrades, emergency communications and  interoperability upgrades and adaptive re-use of existing space. The budget also continues the long tradition of Board of Supervisors’ financial support of local non-profits and community  agencies including Livingston Arts, the Pioneer Library System, and Cornell Cooperative  Extension.  

Despite new pressures and challenges, Livingston County continues to be recognized for its  leadership and pioneering innovation in local government and financial management: 

∙ The County maintains a low fiscal stress score - measured by the State Comptroller’s  Office - which places it in the top tier of all counties in the State.  

∙ According to Moody’s, one of the nation’s leading credit agencies for public bonds,  Livingston County has a stable outlook bond rating of Aa2, which is an excellent rating  for a county its size. Bond ratings are an opinion of an organization’s financial stability  and are a factor used to determine interest rates for municipal debt.  

Coyle stated, “There are no major service reductions or expansions in the 2021 tentative  budget. Even with the uncertainty over revenue from state aid and the fluctuation in the sales  tax returns we experienced this year, the services and operations the public expect from  Livingston County government will remain in place for the 2021 budget year.” 

The 2021 tentative budget can be found here in its entirety. For more information on the  budget, contact the Livingston County Administrator’s office at 585-243-7040.