News Details - Legislature Sets 2012 Budget Guidelines
County departments and agencies are being directed to prepare 2012 budget scenarios showing how they would reduce spending by 7.8% and 11.2%, as a starting point in the 2012 County budget process. The fiscal targets, approved by the Legislature without dissent (Legislators Peter Stein and Kathy Luz Herrera were excused), are recommended by both County Administrator Joe Mareane and the Legislature’s budget committee as the reductions needed to achieve the 2012 tax levy goal set by the Legislature. The Legislature has directed that the County Administrator deliver a tentative budget that shows what can be supported by a 2% tax levy increase (which would require a $4.5 million total reduction in locally controlled spending), and by a recommended tax levy increase of 5.4% (requiring a more than $3 million reduction). Fiscal targets represent the maximum amount of general revenue spending authority that a department may request without initiating an over-target request as part of the budget process.
At the request of Legislator Frank Proto, Administrator Mareane presented Legislators preliminary dollar estimate breakdown of how reductions of 7.8% and 11.2% would affect individual budgeting units. Proto said that information will be helpful as committees begin to review finances for departments that report to them. Legislators Proto, Brian Robison, and Jim Dennis all stressed that the targets are only a starting point, that prioritization is needed, and that many programs cannot survive an across-the-board cut. Legislator Dennis said that, among his personal priorities, he believes that if there is a County program that can be done elsewhere, without taxpayer expense, that is an area the Legislature must carefully review.
The provisions apply to County departments, not-for-profit agency grants, towns and villages seeking reimbursement for countywide services, and human service and criminal justice agencies receiving reimbursement related to the sales tax agreement between the County and City of Ithaca. For County departments, the 2011 fiscal targets must be adjusted to include funding for the required fringe rate increase, then the modified target decreased in the two scenarios by the 7.8% and 11.2%. The action also authorizes the County Administrator to adjust department targets, as needed, to achieve the Legislature’s levy goal and states that the Administrator will consult with department heads and division managers before making any needed target reduction.