MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – During the County Legislature meeting on Wednesday, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel proposed his 2023 budget, which features a 30 cent tax reduction.
The county executive explained his conservative approach to safeguarding the county’s financial future. First, he proposed increasing the property tax levy by 4.1 percent to ensure the county will remain strong for the next fiscal year.
According to Wendel, property values have gone up around 8 percent in the county. Thus, he believes the tax rate should decrease to ensure the levy does not exceed the tax cap.
“Another way to protect our financial position is to be mindful of national and international events that are causing financial uncertainty. Inflation, war, commodity shortages, volatile financial markets are just some of the factors that could possibly have a negative effect on our financial position,” explains Wendel.
The county executive also explained that the fund balance, essentially the county’s savings account, should always be between 5 and 15 percent of county revenue. It currently sits at 13.5 percent. $3.6 million of this fund will be spent on one time capital investments.
“Our final goal was to increase our investment in capital assets. The recent capital project review process revealed many needs for capital investments. So we wanted to commit a significant amount of funds to these needs,” says Wendel.
American Rescue Plan Act funding must be obligated by 2024 and spent by 2026, therefore capital investments in the 2023 budget will utilize these funds. This money cannot be spent to increase the fund balance or reduce the tax levy.
“In 2023, I am proposing a tax rate of $7.80, 30 cents below last year’s rate.This is my third budget as county executive and the third consecutive year I am proposing a decrease in the tax rate,” boasts Wendel.
Conversely, expenditures increased by 6.5 percent and personal services increased by 7.7 percent.
“Revenues increase by 6.9 percent driven by a $5 million increase in sales tax, $2 million of which is passed on to our local municipalities. We will receive more in state aid primarily due to additional funding for health and human services programs. While federally decreases as some of our grants expire,” says Wendel.
There are also 23 new county funding positions including public defenders, school resource officers, and EMTs.
Watch the full address below: