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CAYUGA COUNTY

Public hearing on 2022 Cayuga County budget set for Thursday night

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Cayuga County's proposed 2022 budget has grown slightly since first presented to the Legislature in early November, but taxes remain flat.

The public hearing on the spending plan for next year has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9. The public cannot attend the meeting in person due to COVID-19 restrictions but people can call (315) 294-8051 to make a comment.

Legislators could decide to vote on the measure at this meeting, or they could wait until their regular monthly meeting scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 14. The county's fiscal year mirrors the calendar year, so a budget must be finalized before the end of December.

Total spending in the 2022 preliminary budget is now at $160.8 million. The Legislature Ways & Means Committee, which held a series of special meetings to review the budget with department heads in November, recommended about $106,000 in additional expenses on top of the tentative budget presented to the full Legislature.

The increases included $50,000 in additional money for the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District, $23,000 for Cornell Cooperative Extension and $9,300 for the Cayuga County Public Utility Service Agency.

To pay for the additional spending, lawmakers approved an increase in forecasted sales tax revenue.

The preliminary budget's property tax levy would be unchanged for the 2021 budget. The state-imposed tax on property tax levy increases for Cayuga County this year was 3.8%.

Strong sales tax growth this year and the use of more than $2 million from the general fund balance are the main factors allowing the budget to keep property taxes flat despite overall spending going up by about 5.5%.

The average tax rate for property owners, the amount charged per $1,000 of assessed value, would decrease by 6.0% because of increases in property values countywide.

The tentative budget sets 2022 project sale tax at $25.7 million, which was much higher than what is in the 2021 budget but well below the $27 million that county officials expect in actual sales tax funds for this year.

The budget also takes $2.1 million from the general fund balance to support operations in 2022 after budgeting for $1.2 million in the current year. About $800,000 of that fund balance, though, would be spent on two major roof replacement projects on county facilities: the public safety building on County House Road in Sennett and the 95 Genesee St. building in downtown Auburn that houses multiple county agencies, including the district attorney's office.

Jeremy Boyer can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or jeremy.boyer@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer

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