Reps Updated: All Financial News Bad

STATE HOLDS ON TO MONEY

Reps Updated: All

Financial News Bad

County board Chair David Bliss and Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, upper left, were joined in the 197 Main board room by Keith McCarty.  Others are, top row, from left, Andrew Marietta and Jill Basile.  Second row, from left, are Danny Lapin, Andrew Marietta, Rick Brockway and Ed Frazier.  Third row, County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, Treasurer Allen Ruffles, Adrienne Martini and Clark Oliver.  Bottom row, Peter Oberacker, Michele Farwell and Dan Wilber.  (from screen shot)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – As at every meeting since the coronavirus threat arrived, all the financial news was bad when the county Board of Representatives met this morning.

County Treasurer Allen Ruffles told reps the government is in a holding pattern, awaiting decisions from Albany.  Assisting is Meiko Rowley, a 29-year accountant with the county.

As state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli emphasized when he spoke to the county board last month, the state has yet to decide what funds will be sent out from Albany this year.

Reporting on a presentation by NYSAC budget expert David Lucas, County Attorney Ellen Coccoma said a 20 percent cut in state aid to counties is still anticipated. However, if Albany decides to keep education, Medicaid and public assistance “whole,” the rest of county government would face a 50 percent reduction, Lucas estimated.

The county’s $120 million budget includes only $10 million raised by the property tax, the rest coming from sales and occupancy taxes and state reimbursements for services provided.  Drops in all three categories would bump up the county tax rate next year.

“Right now,” said County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, “we’re owed just under $6 million from the state.”

The uncertainty, he said, has decisionmaking “in a holding pattern … we can start something now, hope is doesn’t get cut, and then it gets cut in the end.”

Today’s resolutions dealt mostly with moving money around and adjusting positions to keep county business going forward after the recent 10 percent cut in the workforce.

The county received $3.5 million in sales tax in recent days, Ruffles said, more than expected because businesses had been given a hiatus on paying during March, April and May due to the economic dip; now they had to catch up.

But that’s money’s “essentially gone” to expenses incurred.  “All of that sales tax will pay a lot of our obligations and catch us up… It was a good thing, but it’s not going to carry us 3-4 months.  It got us through this week’s payroll.”


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