MALONE — Raw numbers show the Franklin County 2013 budget up $7.48 million, with a tax-levy increase of 51.2 percent, if it were adopted as is.
But with the planned use of $2.6 million in reserve accounts and another $1.88 million in technical adjustments, the actual starting point is up more like 20.4 percent.
Projections discussed at the County Legislature meeting Thursday show the current funding gap at $2,979,510, according to figures from County Manager Thomas Leitz, who is also the budget officer.
But he said he is confident the budget can be lowered to bring it near the state-mandated 2-percent property-tax cap.
“It’s there, and I know we can find it,” he said.
And unlike last year, legislators believe they can do it without layoffs.
In fact, they are talking about possible raises for department heads, who have not had salary increase for three years.
The budget must be presented by Oct. 1, and Leitz wants weekly meetings for the next two months to hammer out the spending plan, dividing the sessions up according to the committee structure.
The first would involve the Public Safety Committee, chaired by Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone), and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Probation, the Public Defender Office, Sheriff’s Department, County Jail, Emergency Preparedness, Stop DWI/Traffic Safety and the Conflict Defender.
One of the largest changes involves possible layoffs within Cornell Cooperative Extension, which leases space in the County Courthouse but is not a county agency.
It is running at a deficit, using its cash reserves and facing grant-fund reductions.
Leitz said that office would be “taking dramatic action this fall.”
As for itself, the county will realize some savings on the books by ending inter-agency billing for rent payments involving the Sheriff’s Office, County Jail and Emergency Services.
Some budget increases can be attributed to losses in state revenue and grant funds, but compliance with a state mandate at the County Nursing Home could cost $400,000.
The 80-bed facility, which is to be closed in the next few years and merge with the Alice Hyde Medical Center Nursing Home into a 135-bed nursing home and assisted-living facility, must have a sprinkler system installed to meet a state requirement.
County Nursing Home Administrator Mary Palmer submitted a budget increase for the coming year of $1,263,391, including an order from the state to install a sprinkler system in the Finney Boulevard site.
That is estimated to cost $400,000 on top of the $380,000 that may be needed for the county to replace the facility’s roof, said Leitz.
At the same time, the Nursing Home has a balance of $1,488,368 in a reserve account, part of which legislators could use to bring down the overall tax levy.
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org