PJ Wendel Unveils 2024 Budget with Tax Rate Decrease Amid Unfunded Mandates

(WNY News Now) – Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel presented his 2024 Tentative Executive Budget, emphasizing a tax rate reduction while grappling with unfunded Federal and State Mandates during a County Legislature meeting in Mayville, NY.

Mayville – Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel unveiled his proposed 2024 budget on Wednesday night, spotlighting a reduction in the tax rate alongside the ongoing challenge of managing unfunded Federal and State Mandates. Addressing the full County Legislature in Mayville, NY, Wendel outlined his administration’s vision, objectives, hurdles, advantages, and achievements within the 2024 budget.

Wendel stressed the significance of maintaining high-quality services and programs while adhering to New York State’s tax cap limit in the current economic climate. He attributed budgetary success to exceeding sales and occupancy tax expectations over the last three years, facilitating the expansion of travel and tourism initiatives.

The budget includes capital investments such as heavy equipment procurement, upgrades to the Department of Public Facilities Sheridan Shop, renovations to county salt sheds, and continued improvements to CHQ Transit buses. Wendel also emphasized investments in SUNY Jamestown Community College, IT updates, and public safety enhancements, including a new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) fill station.

A significant portion of the budget, approximately 80%, is allocated to state and federally mandated services and programs, such as Medicaid, assigned counsel pay rates, and foster care expenses. Wendel commended the advocacy of Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell in addressing these burdensome mandates.

Wendel highlighted cost-saving measures, including the leasing of office spaces, such as the recently opened Social Service Office in Dunkirk, projected to save nearly $1 million over its lease term. The county-wide property valuation increase of approximately 16% contributed to a favorable tax rate.

For 2024, Wendel proposed a tax rate of $6.91, a reduction of 89 cents from the previous year, marking the fourth consecutive year of tax rate reduction during his tenure. The last time Chautauqua County’s tax rate was this low was in 1982.

Wendel reported strong post-pandemic recovery trends in sales tax receipts and allocated over $2 million for anticipated occupancy tax receipts in fiscal year 2024. Additionally, he introduced a new initiative to allocate $1 million to fund lake maintenance projects throughout Chautauqua County.

In conclusion, Wendel emphasized that his 2024 Tentative Budget aligns with his vision and commitment to serving Chautauqua County residents effectively. The budget will now undergo legislative review, including consultations with department heads, to determine any necessary modifications.

Access the County Executive’s 2024 Tentative Budget Presentation and recording of Wendel’s address at CHQGov.com/2024Budget.

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