County legislators hope to lower local share 1 percent, provide no tax increase

MAYVILLE — County legislators are aiming for a zero tax increase for the upcoming 2018 budget season.

The budget review process began Monday morning with the Audit and Control and Public Facilities committees hearing from department representatives regarding their budget needs.

According to Audit and Control Commitee Chairperson Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, the local share has increased by 2 percent and legislators will be looking for opportunities to reduce that increase this week.

“We’d like to cut that in half and get that reduced,” Chagnon said. “We’d like to have no tax increase. To do that, we have to find savings in the budget of 1 percent.”

Part of the local share increase is covered by an increase in the property value, however, the other 1 percent of the increase is what legislators will be trying to cut from the budget. Chagnon said the 1 percent that needs to be cut from the budget in order to avoid a tax increase is $620,000.

“Our goal is to find that much money,” he said. “It’s hard work.”

The county executive’s tentative budget lists expenditures as $281 million.

No recommendations have been made to the legislature at this time, however, Chagnon said there are a few ideas being thrown around, such as the sale of the South County Building. Other areas where savings may be found are in utility bills for a number of departments, including the Jamestown Airport. Chagnon has asked for an analysis of utility charges for entities of the county government, which they will look at over the next few days.

Chagnon said since the committees have not yet heard from several departments such as the Sheriff’s Office and Health and Human Services, so it is unknown just how much of an impact the opioid epidemic is having on the budget. In the coming days, the legislature committees will hear from a variety of departments, such as the Board of Elections, the county attorney, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Mental Hygiene, the Sheriff’s Office, the public defender and the district attorney.

The Audit and Control committee will meet together again at 9 a.m. on Thursday in room 331 in the Gerace Office Building.

“We’d like to have no tax increase for 2018,” Chagnon said. “It’s a tall mountain to get there, but we’re working hard to try and make that happen. We’re still hopeful – I don’t know if I’d say I’m optimistic anymore, but I’m hopeful.”