County May Lose Equivalent Of 2/3rd Of Levy In Crisis

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County May Lose

Equivalent Of 2/3rd

Of Levy In Crisis

Ruffles: Sales, Bed Tax Plummet,

NYS May Reneg On Promised Aid

This is a screenshot of this morning’s Otsego County Board of Representatives meeting, which was conducted via Facebook Live, due to social-distancing recommendations. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County’s finances in the Age of Coronavirus may be even worse than first feared.

County Treasurer Allen Ruffles told the county board, meeting this morning via Facebook Live, that county government could see a “7, 8, 9 million reduction” in its revenues and reimbursements if the coronavirus crisis continues.

“That’s almost (the equivalent of) 2/3rd or more of the tax levy,” he said.  “That’s what I have at the moment.”

Here are key points of Ruffles’ analysis:

  • Sales tax – Originally, he’d predicted a $3.2 million drop, but the state Association of County’s (NYSAC’s) latest prediction is that 5-20 percent could be lost, or $2 million to $8 million dollars.
  • Medicaid – While the 2020-21 state budget has still to be approved, the latest word is that Medicaid reimbursement to the counties may drop 17 percent, which in Otsego County’s case would amount to $2.6 million.
  • Pensions – The county may also be asked to contribute more to the state pension system, “to make up a drop in the market.”
  • Bed tax – Usually, that raises $480,000 a summer. Due to the Cooperstown Dreams’ Park cancellation, “a lot of that will go away,” Ruffles said.
  • Federal (FMAP) reimbursements – Some $980,000 of that is expected to go away under various programs.

At that point, county board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield/Cherry Valley, said he’s been participating in a daily conference call from the Governor’s Office, and reimbursements yet to be received from last year’s county budget – money that’s already been spent – may not be forthcoming.

“Everything’s on the table,” Bliss said.  “We may get none of that either.”

Ruffles said he’s advised the county’s department heads about reimbursements.  “They are weighing what’s an emergency and what’s not an emergency,” he said.  “If it’s not an emergency, maybe they are going to come to me.  Maybe we can wait a year.”

With the state budget deadline is today, and lawmakers are due back in the state Capitol this afternoon.

“The state budget is still on the table,” said Ruffles.  “All of that could happen, or could not happen.   But that’s where we stand.”

“Any questions?” asked Bliss.  No one asked any.  “It’s a bleak picture,” he said.


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