PLATSBURGH – Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo has said the county’s budget proposal for 2022 is fully in line with the state-imposed tax cap and would see both the tax levy and the tax rate drop .
Specific details of the spending plan will be revealed when the County Legislative Assembly’s finance committee, on which all lawmakers sit, reviews the proposal in meetings scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on Monday, November 29 and Tuesday, November 30.
“I think the spending plan is a plan the county taxpayer should be content with,” Zurlo told the Press-Republican.
AUSTRIA LAST YEAR
At the start of each new budget season, Zurlo’s kick-off meeting with department heads, usually held during the summer, sets the tone.
Last year, as preparations for the 2021 spending plan began amid falling sales tax numbers and uncertainty over whether federal and state COVID aid would ever decrease, Zurlo had asked austere budgets for the heads of county agencies.
The legislature ultimately passed a budget $ 8.8 million below the 2020 spending plan, saw sales tax projections drop 8.5% and cut 49 positions, all but one through attrition.
âLast year made us realize that we can do things differently,â said Zurlo. âSeveral departments have looked at their operations and found inefficiencies. “
Looking back, Zurlo said, the county didn’t have to take all the steps it took last year.
“That being said, if we hadn’t taken them and acted carefully and the worst-case scenario had happened, we would have been in bad shape.”
This year, initial budget conversations with department heads were lighter in tone, although they were still asked to submit requests proportional to need that did not include unnecessary items, Zurlo said.
“As I have done every year, I go over each item and ask on its merits, but the meeting itself was much lighter.”
Some of the 49 positions that were unfunded last year have been reimbursed under the proposal.
âThe biggest change is the fact that we have sales tax revenue this year,â said Zurlo.
SALES TAX INCREASE OF 11%
Zurlo said Clinton County Treasurer Kimberly Davis was forecasting an 11% sales tax increase this year for 2022 – a net increase of 3.5% from 2020 – due to factors such as the increased online sales, price inflation and the reopening of the northern border. . He pointed out that the county still uses conservative estimates.
“We never balance the budget on sales tax that we don’t plan to enter.”
He added that the city of Plattsburgh and towns and villages in the county should therefore receive a larger share of the sales tax, which “should mean a rosier image for local spending plans.”
“THE TAXPAYER DESERVES STABILITY”
Zurlo said his leadership and that of the legislature has always been to deliver a conservative spending plan that keeps withholdings and tax rates stable.
“We don’t want big increases and decreases. We want stability and I think the taxpayer deserves stability.”
The recommended budget is complete and has been sent to legislators.
Following any necessary changes, the provisional budget is expected to be available to the public on Friday, December 10, prior to a public hearing at the regular meeting on Wednesday, December 15.
Final adoption is scheduled for Monday, December 20.
Email to Cara Chapman: