AUBURN — A software service that would help Cayuga County Child Protective Services workers with paperwork and home visits did not make it into the county's 2018 preliminary budget passed Thursday night after two different attempts to do so.
The approximately $146 million budget remains under the state tax cap, but still includes a 2 percent increase in the tax levy. The draw on the fund balance grew slightly since the body's first look at the budget in October, but it remains around $550,000.
The largest proposed change to the budget came from Legislator Joe Bennett, requesting about $161,000 to be drawn from the fund balance for the CPS software. Most county legislators said they supported the idea of Northwoods Consulting Partners's program and how it could help CPS workers conduct more efficient visits, but the fund balance draw caused some concern.
Legislature Chairman Keith Batman said he, too, was still waiting to learn what additional support the program might require of the county's Information Technology Department. Legislators Aileen McNabb-Coleman, Joe DeForest and Ben Vitale agreed. McNabb-Coleman said the IT department was already handling some large projects in real property and the health department.
Vitale made an amendment for the funding to be put into a contingency account.
"We hear all year about these new positions and new programs, and we always say, 'Wait for the budget. Put it in the budget,'" said Legislator Patrick Mahunik. "Here's an opportunity to put it in the budget, give it a line item. Again, we can't, no contract can be executed without our vote and our support. So to put an extra layer or hurdle in front of this, is just ridiculous."
The amendment failed 8-6 with Legislator Terry Baxter absent and Legislators Mahunik, Tucker Whitman, Andy Dennison, Paul Pinckney, Bennett, Tim Lattimore, Mike Didio and Ryan Foley against it.
The original proposal to put the funds in the budget was defeated, too, at 7-7. Legislators Dennison, Vitale, Grant Kyle, McNabb-Coleman, DeForest, Frank Reginelli and Batman were against.
Legislators did vote and pass $2,000 to be put into advertising for the office of the aging, so more people will be aware of the Medicare help it provides.
Legislators passed the preliminary budget 11-3 with Whitman, Dennison and Bennett opposed.
The budget will go to a public hearing during the full Legislature meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28.
In other news:
• A special committee of the whole meeting to discuss the future of the county office building and other county buildings lasted about four minutes. Upon getting an outline of questions to discuss about whether to consider a new county office building or whether to renovate the existing one, Bennett suggested holding the meeting until next year when newly elected legislators and the newly hired county administrator could participate.
The body agreed, and the meeting's chair, Vitale, adjourned.