From Staff Reports on September Meetings, 9/30/21
County leaders are in the process of crafting the 2022 county budget that is one of the most complex in recent history, perhaps in county history. The number crunchers in Belmont are presented with the challenges of rebuilding a budget that was slashed in the depths of the pandemic. A flood of federal relief aid has since arrived creating opportunities and uncertainty with the question: How will the county spend $8,952,636?
Early this month the budget committee hosted a hearing that asked, “all departments come forward, give a broad description on the state of their finances for 2021, and then make notice of any significant changes in their 2022 Budget.” Those department head statements and interaction with the committee can be found in a copy of the meeting minutes:
Last week the Budget Committee held its monthly meeting and discussed the latest updates on sales tax, AIM(Aid and Incentives for Municipalities,) and the counties 2020 Fiscal Stress Score. Below are those minutes:
Committee Members Present: B. Harris, P. Curran, D. Fanton, P. Stockin, C. Crandall (Absent:
J. Burdick, J. Ricci)
Others Present: G. Barnes, K. Demick, W. Dibble, K. Dirlam, C. Dutton – Cuba Patriot, K. Graves, G. Hanchett, S. Havey, D. Healy, K. Hooker, J. Hopkins, C. Knapp, R. Lynch, B. Riehle, T. Shaw, J. Swales, M. Washer
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 1:41 p.m. by Budget Committee Chairman Brooke Harris.
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Legislator Stockin, seconded by Legislator Curran, and carried to approve the August 18, 2021, Budget Committee minutes.
Sales Tax Report
The 2021 Allegany County Sales Tax Report reflecting receipts totaling $18,149,823.45 through August 18, 2021, was distributed to the committee for review. The year-to-date figures show an increase of $3,682,480.54 or 25.454 percent more compared to last year at this time. Committee Chairman Harris stated County Treasurer Terri Ross was unable to attend the meeting, but is available by email if anyone has any questions or concerns.
Chairman Crandall stated that even though our revenue is up, we’re still seeing the AIM payment and other deductions being taken by the state. Chairman Crandall continued those who attended the NYSAC Conference in Syracuse took part in conversation about what the state was doing with these AIM payments to put them back with the state where they belong. Chairman Crandall suggested as they move forward, they make sure to keep the pressure on the state as much as they can through NYSAC and Inter-County because the state should be the ones picking up the tab on that as it was their expense that they shoved into the laps of the counties along with other mandated costs, such as Medicaid, that they don’t hear about anymore. Committee Chairman Harris stated the Distressed Hospital Fund is practically unnecessary, and that burden should be removed as well. Mr. Harris noted there was bi-partisan support to remove AIM payments from counties so he has no idea why it didn’t make it to the state budget. Legislator Healy stated there is no shortage to the state’s need for funding, adding he heard on the news that the state’s unemployment fund is $9 billion in the hole, and he hopes they don’t rely on the counties to subsidize that cost as well. Legislator Dibble suggested passing a resolution to remove the mandated AIM payments. Committee Chairman Harris stated one was already passed in the spring, and recommends something like that being done closer to the state budget. Legislator Healy asked if Mr. Harris has any further inside comments on the AIM payments as his role as Inter-County President. Mr. Harris stated it’s universally despised among county officials, adding there is also shared concern among Inter-County members. Legislator Healy asked if there are any further plans of action from Inter-County. Committee Chairman Harris stated they only consider resolutions as they come through counties.
2020 Fiscal Stress Score
Committee Chairman Harris stated that Treasurer Ross received notification from the state that in both fiscal and environmental stress levels the County received no designation which is the best we can get as an entity. Mr. Harris noted the County’s score was 26.7, adding not that the County isn’t susceptible to fiscal stress, but according to the State Comptroller we’re in good shape. Chairman Crandall stated no designation with a score of 26.7 is good news. Chairman Crandall continued there have been times the County wasn’t in a position where we had no designation, so hats off to this Board as well as previous Boards who helped to put us in this good position. Chairman Crandall went on to say at one time the County was in a financial struggle, and there was discussion that a control board should come in and take over, and he thinks it’s worth noting that the Board decided to take control of their own finances and get us to the good spot we’re in. Committee Chairman Harris stated not to overlook the department heads, County Treasurer, and our Budget Officer who also contributed.
There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was adjourned at 1:50 p.m. following a motion by Legislator Fanton, seconded by Legislator Curran, and carried.