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LEGISLATURE STUFF - Putting Fiscal Eggs into Many Baskets

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 6/7/24 | 6/7/24

By Michael Ryan

CATSKILL - In an effort to keep things clear for we mules of taxation, and provide fiscal stability for uncertain times, Greene County Legislature members have re-established a plethora of piggy banks.

Lawmakers and other county officials, over the past few years, have been able to stockpile monies, due in no small part to an unexpected influx of sales tax revenue brought on by the covid pandemic.

People were leaving New York City and other metropolitan areas in droves, heading to the less crowded mountains, purchasing homes here and spending their money here, pleasantly fattening local coffers.

County treasurer Peter Markou, in his regular updates to lawmakers, has reported on the sweet stash of cash, accumulating to the tune of $100 million with no particular earmark.

Not that any of the loot would be wasted or frivolously spent, but there have been suggestions from the citizenry to possibly use the surplus for reductions on yearly tax bills or some method of return.

Taking a conservative approach, and remembering previous economic spikes being followed by a return to normal or even sharp drops, lawmakers opted to create several stashes.

Those reservoirs were set up within existing budgetary expenditures such as for the highway department, and planning for building maintenance.

While it is not exactly fiscal rocket science to itemize anticipated expenses that occur on a yearly basis, the policy has also brought greater efficiency to covering unanticipated and/or emergency situation costs.

County administrator Shaun Groden, in a telephone interview, further explained that New York State overseers are in on the act.

“Audit and Control is re-tightening reporting requirements,” Groden said. “Rather than having undesignated money, so to speak, they want everything delineated, dollar for dollar, which is fine with us.” 

Toward all those ends, lawmakers, at a recent meeting, approved several resolutions with the intent of “remaining committed to prudent budgetary practices”, as follows:

—Re-establishing the Department Vehicle Fund, directing $1,096,635 initially deposited last year.

—Re-establishing the Economic Development and Tourism Fund totaling $1,154,946, meeting a recurring need.

“Economic Development and Tourism have significant impacts on the local economy and revenue generation,” the resolution states.

“To remain competitive, technology, communications and equipment that are modern, effective and responsive to market conditions must be maintained,” the resolution states.

“The purpose of this Reserve Fund is to accumulate moneys to finance the costs of improvements to the county’s Economic Development and Tourism systems and operations,” the resolution states.

—Re-establishing the Emergency Services Equipment Fund, presently totaling $1,619,988.

—Establishing the General Facilities and Maintenance Fund ($1,881,226), for ongoing upkeep including but not limited to the areas of electrical, HVAC, plumbing and structural improvements.

—Re-establishing the Bridge and Road Reconstruction Reserve Fund, securing $4,694,000 to finance the cost of bridges, culverts, roads and slide improvements.

—Re-establishing the Highway Equipment and Facilities Reserve Fund ($3,518,335), maintaining a fleet of safe, fully operational equipment that efficiently delivers the services necessary for residents.

—Re-establishing the Information Technology Fund ($1,438,269), noting that vital technology “requires equipment that has a period of probable usefulness, including but not limited to cameras, computers, servers, software, wiring and other ancillary items,” the resolution states.

—Re-establishing the Real Property Tax Stabilization Fund ($11,400,000), “to finance any unanticipated revenue losses or expenditures chargeable to the eligible portion of the annual budget,” the resolution states.

In addition, the Real Property Tax Stabilization Fund serves to “lessen or prevent projected increases of the real property tax levy needed to support the eligible portion of the annual budget,” the resolution states.

—Re-establishing the Solid Waste Equipment and Facilities Reserve Fund ($571,738), for maintaining the network of four transfer stations and the routine maintenance of their daily operations.

In a fiscally related matter, lawmakers approved a budget amendment for Capital Project #140, related to the Community Services/Mental Health building, located in the town of Cairo.

County treasurer Markou was authorized to transfer $24 million from Fund Balance to Capital Project #140, focused on the anticipated rehabilitation or replacement of the century-old structure.

Legislature chairman Patrick Linger, in a telephone interview, emphasized that none of the dollars are set in stone, able to be moved if needed, although not arbitrarily, requiring a resolution from the full board.


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