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Ruffles Uses CHIPS,

Plus Low-Cost Debt,

To Balance ’21 Budget

County Treasurer’s Model May

Provide A Roadmap For Reps

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Ruffles at today’s Zoom meeting. ( photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County’s roads are paved with gold, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles has discovered.

And that gold can balance the county’s 2021 budget and keep the tax-rate increase under the state-mandated 2 percent next year, Ruffles told the county board’s Budget Committee today.

In unveiling a preliminary county budget that county treasurers are required to submit to Albany by mid-November, Ruffles said the prospective budget gap has already been reduced from $13.5 million to $5.4 million through cuts and anticipate efficiencies.

One, his plan is to borrow $4 million through bond anticipation notes – “the rates are the lowest in years” – and pay back the money over the next 12-24 years in more prosperous times.

“I don’t think the economy will be as bad next year as this year,” he said.

Two, with the state dependably reimbursing CHIPS road-repair expenses, the county Highway Department will front-load perhaps as much as $6.7 million in projects as early next summer, and the county will use those reimbursements for cash flow.

“Our cash flow is going to hinge on how much the county Highway Department can get done,” he said.

If COVID-19 is in retreat and tourism rebounds, sales-tax and bed-tax revenues will likewise rebound, and the county, if it wishes, may start paying off the low-cost loans immediately, he said.

Ruffles underscored this is his budget, the one county treasurers are required to submit next month, and is preliminary.

The county board has until mid-December to complete its 2021 budget and can still “do whatever it wants,” he said. “But, at least, we’re going to meet the first deadline.”

However, The Ruffles Model may be one the county board chooses to follow, judging from comments and questions from members of the Budget Committee today.

And Budget Committee chair Meg Kennedy, R-C, Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, thanked the treasurer for his presentation.



  1. Is this legal?! Can the county use CHIPS funding for cash flow??? In my understanding, this money is designated for highway improvements ONLY.. using these reimbursements for cash flow may open this county up for violations and potentially more financial burdens than we are already facing… WAKE UP OTSEGO COUNTY!

  2. This approach also assumes that Covid will be under control next year. While I hope that will be true, I would not personally take bets on it.

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