Tioga County budget in place; tax increase noted
In the proposed 2013 budget for Tioga County, N.Y., taxes are going up in 2013 by 1.35
percent, an increase of $290,632 county-wide. Tax rates vary by town due to state established equalization rates. That means county taxes will be going up by 5.5 percent in Barton, 1.75 percent in Owego, and 1.57 percent in Candor, while county property taxes are going down in Richford by 0.054 percent. The other towns in Tioga County are getting tax increases of about 0.4 percent.
"Within the county an owner of a $100,000 home will pay between $856 and $872 in county property taxes," Tioga County Budget Officer Chuck Shager said.
"Local officials along with department heads were asked to reduce their budgets," Shager said during a budget hearing held on Nov. 20. "As a result, we are presenting a budget that decreases spending by over $2 million dollars and increases revenue by $600,000 in the general fund. Throughout this process we have looked at becoming more efficient in the way we operate while still providing both valuable and mandated services for the citizens of Tioga County."
Total proposed spending for 2013 is $91,397,811, down $3,839,982 from 2012's $95,237,793.
"The largest decreases were in Mental Hygiene, Public Health, Department of Social Services, Information Technology, and Buildings and Road Equipment," Shager said.
The proposed spending plan for 2013 reduces expenses from 2012's $71,547,147 to a proposed $69,472,318, a decrease of $2,074,829 or 2.93 percent. The county's savings account, the fund balance, will be drawn on for $2,951,446 to minimize tax increases, according to Shager, leaving roughly $7 million in the account at the end of 2013.
"This reduction in the fund balance is warranted at this time, but it cannot be sustained in the future," Shager said. "Therefore, the county needs to continue to look at ways of presenting cost efficient services and using technology to assist in offering these services to the residents of Tioga County. In this budget there are 28 vacated unfunded positions, up from nine in 2012, and future budgets may require staff reductions."
Regarding the 2 percent property tax increase cap, Shager said, "Under this proposed budget we are under the cap by a significant amount, but the terms of this law are constantly under review and changing. By passing an override, the county is protected from any changes that occur in the law that are as yet unknown to us."
So although the Tioga County Legislature passed a tax cap override on a six-to-three vote, it is because of the uncertainty of what the law means exactly, a common complaint among many lawmakers in Tioga County at every level.
Legislators Dale Weston, Mike Roberts, and Richard Huttleston voted against the tax cap override. Legislators Marte Sauerbrey, Tracy Monell, Loretta Sullivan, Ray Case, Ed Hollenbeck and Bill Standinger voted for the measure.
After the Nov. 20 Public Hearing on the budget, taxes can not be increased without another public hearing, Shager said. The 2013 Budget will likely be approved during the 12th Regular Meeting of the Tioga County Legislature on Dec. 11.