Herkimer County adopts 2016 budget, stays within NYS tax cap

The Herkimer County tentative 2016 budget was accepted and approved by the Ways & Means committee on November 6, at $98,486,155.

This compares to a budget of $99,527,058 for 2015.

The change amounts to a decrease of approximately $1,040,903 or 1.05% from 2016 to 2015.

The tax levy will go up 1.77% to $26,202,399. 

The tax rate for 2016 will be $5.55 per thousand in the County, as compared to $5.49 per thousand in 2015.

This budget uses $459,000 in fund balance and reserve and is $1,057,831 less from these accounts than was used for the 2015 budget, said Patrick Russell, Chairman of the Ways & Means committee of the Herkimer County Legislature.

“The average homeowner of a home equalized at $150,000 will pay an additional $9.00 next year,” Russell said.

Vincent Bono, Chairman of the County Legislature, commented on how this budget stacks up to the requirements of New York State.

“This budget falls within the County’s allowable New York State mandated tax cap and, because the County has an accepted government efficiency study approved by the state, County tax payers should be eligible next fall for New York State rebates for any increase that qualifies under this program,” he said.

Major drivers for the increase in the tax levy are:

A total of $920,000 less fund balance used; a $96,958 increase in election expenses due to the additional primary for state and federal representatives; an increase in Safety Net (a New York State welfare program that is funded by County tax payers at 71% to state’s 29%) expenses of $100,000; an increase in Mental Health consultants at $44,000; a loss of $100,000 in County Clerk fees; and the loss of state and local revenues of $362,247.

Three major issues remain stable in the 2016 budget: health insurance, sales tax and boarding out of inmates.

Important positives were savings of $308,824 in Medicaid.

Also, County tax payers will still pay $13.3 million for Medicaid, which is 51% of the tax levy raised for 2016.

And charges for County employees for retirement will go down $95,703 and there is a $284,035 decrease for Pre-K children with special needs.

And the County will still spend $2.4 million on these services for youth.

Ways & Means Committee Chairman Russell thanks those who helped bring this budget about.

“I am thankful to our Budget Officer, Department Heads, committee members, staff and the full Legislature on crafting a very financial sound budget that is a blue print for the County finances going forward,” he said.

“This budget is in line with a county that has no general fund indebtedness and high bond ratings.”

The tentative budget will be submitted by November 13, 2015 to the Clerk of the Legislature at which time it can be viewed in her office.

It will also be online at www.herkimercounty.org by November 13, 2015.

The Legislature will schedule a public hearing on the budget for December 16, 2015, and it will be voted on by the Legislature on that date.

For further information, contact James W. Wallace, Jr., County Administrator at (315) 867-1112.

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