Proposed $41.6M spending plan holds line on taxes in Madison County

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WAMPSVILLE — Madison County’s 2022 tentative budget is looking at no increase to the tax levy.

The budget totals $41,670,000, and if adopted, the average tax rate on full value will decrease by 34 cents per $1,000 of taxable value. So a property worth $100,000 could see County taxes fall $34 in 2022.

“The County’s financial outlook for 2022 is much different than what we were facing a year ago,” said Madison County Treasurer Cindy Edick. “Last year at this time, we were bracing for drastic cuts in state aid, approaching sales tax revenue projections with an abundance of caution and questioning whether any Federal stimulus funds would reach the County. Fortunately, most state aid reductions were restored, sales tax revenue has exceeded projections, and the County received a sizable allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act.”

Most state aid reductions were restored, sales tax revenue exceeded projections, and the county received a sizable amount of funds from the ARPA.

Estimated sales tax revenue is $33 million — an increase of $4.53 million compared to last year’s budget.

One issue discussed last year during budget talks was the use of the fund balance to help balance the budget. Fund balance use was reduced to $3,804,929 in 2021, which Edick said was considerably less than in recent years. This year, the tentative budget calls for using $4,493,747 in fund balance — an increase of $688,818. But that’s not something to worry about, Edick said.

Things are still uncertain when it comes to the host community benefit revenue from the Oneida Indian Nation. Due to this uncertainty, the host community benefit revenue hasn’t been included in the County’s adopted budget.

“Because of pandemic-related financial concerns, the County deliberately did not appropriate any of this revenue for spending in 2020 and 2021,” Edick said. The portion of this revenue retained by the County and not shared with the city, towns, and villages amounted to $2,583,984.

The 2022 tentative budget assumes the use of $1,033,500 from host community benefit revenue already received. It would be used for non-recurring expenditures for projects and equipment that have been requested by departments but removed from the budget.

Some of these items include a new steel track excavator for the highway department, new access control doors for the I.T. department, a new server for the Board of Elections, and a lawn tractor for the public facilities department.

Overall, Madison County is looking to get back into a pre-pandemic state, which is reflected in the 2022 spending plan.

“The 2022 spending plan reflects the departments’ easing back to pre-pandemic activities,” Edick said. “Appropriations for items such as training and staff development are returning to more typical levels, as more in-person conferences and seminars are being offered. While vacant positions continue to be scrutinized, there is now less hesitancy to fill those positions.”

To that end, the 2022 budget includes a handful of new positions, some of which are meant to assist with transitions due to planned employee planned retirement.

In the end, the 2022 budget provides for all mandated services and other services valued by Madison County residents.

“We are fortunate to have such a dedicated workforce that strives to provide the best possible services for our taxpayers while being cost-conscious and mindful of who we work for,” Edick said.

“I would like to thank Treasurer Edick for her hard work on bringing the Board a zero percent increase budget,” said Madison County Board Chairman John Becker. “It was important that after raising taxes in 2021 to prepare for the worst, we were able to give back to the residents. I want to thank Madison County Administrator Mark Scimone and the department heads for finding ways to use the ARPA funds and host community money from the Oneida Indian Nation to pay for one-time expenses. We were able to increase staffing, add programs and services, all while keeping the burden off of the Madison County taxpayers.”

There will be a public hearing on the Tentative Budget on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 10:10 AM. The public is welcome to come to the meeting in person or submit public comment by email to publiccomment@madisoncounty.ny.gov. The budget is set to be adopted at the Dec. 2 Board of Supervisors meeting.

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