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Saratoga County Tentative Budget

Saratoga County Tentative Budget

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Published by David Lombardo
Saratoga County Tentative Budget for 2014.
Saratoga County Tentative Budget for 2014.

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Published by: David Lombardo on Oct 31, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/18/2014

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2 14
TENT TIVE BUDGET
f
Saratoga ounty
B LLSTON
SP
~Y~
 
Honorable Alan Grattidge, Chair Saratoga County Board
o
Supervisors October 31, 2013 Over the past several years, this budget message has been mostly about the County's reaction to an economic downturn that began in 2008, which took a toll on county operations and accentuated the effects
o
financial vulnerabilities we already had -most
o
all, the structural deficit associated with Maplewood Manor. With this year's budget message, we are turning the page from reaction to recovery. The recovery we've initiated in county government since 2011 is the result
o
major changes in operations and staffing, and in many cases a reexamination
o
the way we do business. As a result
o
these changes, which we'
ll
continue
to
implement and refine in 2014, Saratoga County will realize dividends for many years
to
come. This year, we forged ahead with the two most significant initiatives
o
the 2013 Budget: the establishment
o
a Local Development Corporation
to
privatize Maplewood Manor, and the privatization
o
our unopened County Landfill. The Maplewood Manor Local Development Corporation (MMLDC), which is made up
o
five County Supervisors and two members
o
the public, adopted a budget, prepared a Request For Proposals, interviewed prospective buyers, toured the skilled nursing facilities they own, and performed an enormous amount
o
additional due diligence
to
move the marketing and sale process forward. A half dozen county management personnel took on additional responsibilities all year to support the efforts
o
the LDC board. Due to all these efforts, we are expecting a sale to take place next year. This will allow
us
to adopt a County Budget
n
2014 that for the first time in eleven years does not contain a General Fund subsidy
o
Maplewood Manor. The privatization
o
the County Landfill was also completed this year following a year and a half
o
work by the Public Works Committee, Chairman Grattidge, the County Attorney and other county staff, and a consulting engineer. The sale agreement we negotiated with Finch Paper accomplished the County's goals
o
securing 4 million in initial sale revenue, with the promise
o
a recurring revenue stream in the future once the landfill begins operating. Between salaries and fringe benefits, the County's largest expense is the 1 200 women and men who work in our departments providing services to the public. In 2013, we continued efforts that began in 2011 to control these costs and ensure a sustainable course for the future. Our
 
Personnel Committee has worked tirelessly to reduce health insurance expenses, which represent our largest benefit cost. In 2012, we switched from a fully insured to an Administrative Services Only (ASO) agreement. In 2013, we changed carriers and saved hundreds
o
thousands
o
dollars more. In 2014, we will begin a new Medicare Advantage Plan for our retirees that will save over 1.4 million
in
the first year. We'
re
also making progress in achieving healthcare savings at the bargaining table. We negotiated this year with all three
o
our labor unions through dozens
o
meetings, mediation sessions, and an interest arbitration panel. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our Corrections union included a healthcare contribution from pre-1998 employees for the first time in County history, and the interest arbitration proceeding we convened with our Road Patrol union improved the County's position to obtain similar healthcare allowances in that unit's next contract. As
o
the release
o
this budget message, we're still negotiating with our largest bargaining unit, CSEA, and our number one priority
is
negotiating healthcare concessions that will save taxpayers money for many years to come. Other personnel-related activities this year included the continuation
o
a hiring freeze begun in 2011. We also filled department head vacancies in five departments due to the retirement
o
tenured staff. The Board
o
Supervisors is moving forward with an important initiative to develop Saratoga County's first comprehensive Economic Development Strategic Plan next year, which will draw upon the knowledge
o
many local stakeholders and an analysis
o
the County's resources. The plan will chart a defined strategy to strengthen and grow our local economy over the next five to ten years. The Board has chosen a world-class consulting firm from Austin, TX to provide their expertise in developing this plan, prioritizing our goals, and charting implementation strategies and tactics. The strategic plan will improve Saratoga County's ability
to
compete in an increasingly competitive regional and statewide environment, and safeguard the economic strength that has always been our hallmark and the foundation
o
our financial success. The proverbial phrase that best describes our current operating philosophy
is
: actions speak louder than words. We haven't just talked about what should be done. For the past three years, Saratoga County has done it, and we are beginning to see the fruits
o
our labor reflected in the stabilization
o
our operating budget. For the third year in a row, our property tax levy will remain within the statutory cap. Our fiscally conservative management practices, plus the significant activities outlined above, will translate into the use
o
only
1
million
in
reserves to balance the 2014 Budget, which
is
our lowest anticipated usage
o
fund balance in seven years.

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