County budget draft shows 7.3 percent increase

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County legislators got their first look at the proposed 2013 draft budget at the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee meeting held Tuesday.

The spending plan calls for an increase of 7.3 percent in the tax levy.

At least one million will need to be cut to meet the state’s mandated property tax cap, County Administrator Phil Church said.

There are cuts that can be made, which are known as “feel good” reductions. As an example, legislators are listed as having a salary increase of $370 each.  The draft budget was handed out to legislators and the public, with committee Chairman Art Ospelt noting that discussion would take place at upcoming committee meetings.

County Treasurer John Kruk said he was concerned with a $2 million increase in anticipated sales-tax revenue.

“I will ask you to look at the amount for sales tax,” Kruk said. “I have some concerns there.”

Ospelt said the line could be looked at a subsequent meeting and Kruk said he will address his concerns with the appropriate committee.

Church said there are positives and negatives to the proposed budget.

“Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives,” he said.

The positives include an anticipated increase in sales tax revenue and no raises for management or bargaining units, with the exception of a $1,000 lump sum for CSEA union members and the mandated salary increase for the district attorney.

Also on the positive side is that there is reduced reliance on fund balance and reserves. Also, seven positions that have been vacant were removed.

The significant negative factors, Church said, include an increase of $1.3 million in state retirement costs, Safety Net costs increased by $1.15 million, Medicaid increased by $451,961 and the assigned counsel program increased by $343,586.

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