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Schenectady County Tentative 2013 Operating Budget

Schenectady County Tentative 2013 Operating Budget

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Published by John Purcell
Schenectady County 2013 Tentative Operating Budget, as submitted by the County Manager to the Legislature on Oct. 1, 2012.
Schenectady County 2013 Tentative Operating Budget, as submitted by the County Manager to the Legislature on Oct. 1, 2012.

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Published by: John Purcell on Oct 10, 2012
Copyright:Public Domain


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The Honorable Chair and Members of the Schenectady County Legislature
Kathleen Rooney, County Manager
October 1, 2012_____________________________________________________________________________
We present to you the 2013 Tentative County Operating and Capital Budgets.The 2013 budget appropriation totals $296,038,600. This reflects a 0.26% increase in appropriations ascompared to 2012, far below 1% and even further below the rate of inflation. We have worked hard tocontain costs yet maintain basic services.Between 2009 and 2012, Schenectady County has not raised taxes and in fact reduced taxes more than2%. We reduced property taxes for the past three years and absorbed $14M in the growth in mandatedcosts through cuts in spending, cost avoidance, revenue maximization projects and through the use of County savings to provide relief to the property taxpayer.Unfortunately the cumulative increase in mandated costs since 2009 has grown again and is now $17Mgreater than it was in 2009. This increase is exclusive of increases in mandated obligations such asincreases in employee health insurance. The 2013 budget has many service reorganizations; serviceefficiencies, contract reductions and position attritions resulting in $5.5M in cost-savings. However, thecontinued growth in mandated costs is now at a level that surpasses our ability to absorb them on anongoing basis. The 2013 proposed budget includes an increase in the tax levy to $69,256,955, reflecting a7.49% increase over the 2012 levy to pay for a portion of the growth in mandated costs.The proposed 2013 property tax levy is up 4.99% when compared to 2009. This is 4.99% over a fouryear period.
The proposed 2013 County levy increase equates to a 1.23% annual average increase since 2009
This is far below New York State’s property tax cap. Since 2009, unlike most municipalities,Schenectady County has not increased taxes each year but in fact reduced taxes 2% in 2010 and kept thetaxes flat in 2011 and 2012.An average home in Schenectady County with a market value of $100,000 will pay approximately $47more in County property taxes next year. An average home with a market value of $150,000 will see anapproximate $71 increase in County taxes next year. This is the first increase in Schenectady Countytaxes since 2009.
New York State mandated program costs and mandated retirement system costs consume 84% of the totalproperty and sales tax revenues retained by the County. As these mandated costs go up, the majority of 
Kathleen Rooney
County Manager 
County of Schenectady
Office of the County Manager
620 State StreetSchenectady, New York 12305Phone: (518) 388-4355Fax: (518) 388-4590
the budget cuts must come from the much smaller portion of the budget – the non-mandated portion –including our library system, aging services and other quality of life services provided by the County.
State/Federal mandates account for more than 100% of County property taxes. Medicaid alone accounts for 50% of the property tax levy.
County governments have a distinct relationship with New York State. Different than cities, towns andvillages, counties are mandated to administer, deliver and pay for New York State human service andpublic safety programs. County taxpayers, particularly counties coping with poverty and crime issues, arebearing the fiscal burden of funding mandated costs such as Medicaid, child welfare, juvenile justice,preschool education, public assistance, corrections and indigent defense. Unlike many states, New York MANDATES counties pay for a significant share of these costs.
Medicaid is the single largest mandated expenditure. Schenectady County taxpayers are mandated to pay$34.6M in property taxes for Medicaid in 2013; up $680,000 over 2012. New York State has thedistinction of being the sole state in the nation that mandates Medicaid program costs upon the localproperty taxpayer. Basic public finance policy suggests that programs such as Medicaid that redistributeresources from one income tier to another should be paid for by the income tax, not by the property orsales tax. The following chart reflects the dramatic increase in the net County cost for Medicaid since2001.
Schenectady County Net Medicaid Expenditures
Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice and Public Assistance Services
Counties are mandated to provide all child protective and juvenile justice services. These are critical lifesafety services that Schenectady County government takes seriously for the protection of children,families and communities.The number of child protective reports that must be investigated remains high at approximately 2,900 peryear. Of these cases, approximately 600 cases remain open for ongoing services and more than 240children are in foster care at any one time. More than 573 Persons in Need of Supervision and JuvenileDelinquency cases are handled each year by our integrated juvenile justice center. Child protection and
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