Wednesday, November 10, 2010
(Monticello) – County Manager David P Fanslau has filed the 2011 Tentative Sullivan County Budget with the Clerk of the County Legislature, in compliance with the County Administrative Code and New York State Law. Fanslau issued the following statement: “This 2011 Tentative Sullivan County Budget places our residents and taxpayers first, by freezing the property tax burden and not reducing services, while capping spending below the 2010 levels. However, to accomplish these necessary goals, I have recommended freezing salaries at the 2010 levels – deferring salary increases and longevity payments that were scheduled to take effect in 2011. I have great compassion for the County’s employees, and feel the weight of these decisions on my shoulders. And I recognize that I am asking our employees to sacrifice all additional compensation above their 2010 base salary in 2011 – for the Common Good – keeping our workforce intact and providing the services that our citizenry deserves and expects.
Sullivan County’s budget is predominantly driven by the unfunded mandates imposed by the New York State Government – mandates that support some of the most expensive and overly generous social services in America. Without substantive mandate reform and relief, coupled with substantive reform and repeal of the property tax exemption statutes – the programs and services that are provided by the County Government are unsustainable. The County Legislature will have to take specific actions to address the financial feasibility of remaining in business models that require supplements from the property taxpayers, particularly those programs that are dictated by the New York State Government. The New York State Budget for the current State fiscal year was adopted significantly late, and by all reports is substantially imbalanced.
The 2011 Tentative County Budget appropriates a total of $190,789,772, a decrease of $190,778 from the 2010 adopted budget. I would first note that this decrease in spending is prudent and necessary, as major revenue sources have significantly declined from 2010 adopted levels, as a result of the continuing recession.
This rapid and drastic deterioration of the economy is, of course, neither the fault of the County nor of any labor organization. However, it was well beyond the scope we anticipated during negotiations. Salary increases in 2011 would require a massive increase in the real property tax – which is not only impractical but also impossible in consideration of the Federal Government’s decision to not grant a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to senior citizens and disabled veterans in 2011, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and current unemployment statistics, or require that employees be separated from employment for the sole purpose of providing compensation increases above 2010 base salary to other employees.
The proposed 2011 County Budget moves forward with consolidation of offices and the redeployment of services, with the goal of reducing the cost of County Government being achieved, and assisted by these efforts. The consolidation involves:
1. The creation of the Department of Human Resources, consolidating the current departments of Personnel and Risk Management & Insurance, under the direction of Lynda Levine, Esquire.
2. Consolidation of DPW payroll functions into the Payroll Department.
3. The creation of a Health and Family Services Division Finance Unit – pooling all resources involved in billing and claiming for Medicaid and other payment sources into one streamlined unit to improve the County’s cash flow issues.
4. Directing the MIS Department to move forward with technological efficiencies, and the procurement and implementation of the Virtual Desktop Solution.
5. The creation of the DPW Flood & Erosion Control Unit that will coordinate the contract stream maintenance and cleaning functions of the Sullivan County Soil and Water Conservation District, with the planned projects of the DPW Engineering, and Road and Bridge Maintenance projects.
6. Directs the DPW to implement one person plowing and Snow and Ice Removal Alternatives.
7. Proceeds with the consolidation of DPW Facilities and Staff.
8. Provides for the Commissioner of the Division of Public Safety to assume some administrative duties in the Probation Department.
9. Provides for the Sheriff’s Sr. Fiscal Officer to assume the fiscal responsibilities of the Probation Department.
10. Explores the offer from Sheriff Schiff, on the potential of Probation Department restitution payments to be made at the Sheriff’s Civil Unit Office.
11. Consolidates public safety dispatching of the E911 Department and the Sheriff’s Office, thereby providing the Sheriff the ability to reassign four Patrol Deputies to active Patrol duties. The Sheriff would assume responsibility for the E911 Department, permitting the E911 dispatchers to fully function with the ability to assist law enforcement.
12. Co-locates the Center for Workforce Development with the Planning Department to forge a priority on the mission of the Economic Development Corporation.
13. Restructures and reorganizes the DFS Special Investigations Unit and the Child Support Unit under the DFS Legal Department to increase efficiencies and share data on cases and mission, and this consolidation will result with the abolishment of two supervisory positions that are vacant from recent retirements.
The County must take steps to phase-out of business ventures that are non-performing fiscally, particularly where the private sector or non-profit sector has the capacity to provide the service. The time has come to formally address the future fiscal ability for the County Government to remain as the chief provider of services that are mandated by the State Government, but may be more efficiently and less costly provided by the private or non-profit sectors.
In consideration of the economic conditions, and the poor result of the real property auction in June 2010, I am directing that the Economic Development Corporation and the Planning Department perform an analysis of all non-residential foreclosed property that the County has recorded title, to determine the feasibility of offering parcels of property for either a long-term land lease through the EDC or discounted sales, in exchange for sales tax generating uses, coupled with a criteria and formulary of developing “living-wage” jobs for Sullivan County residents.
The Sales Tax revenues have decreased by about $4 million between 2008 and 2010. That $4 million in decreased sales tax revenues represents a reduction of $100 million of consumer spending within Sullivan County that would be subject to the Sales Tax. Clearly, this underscores the need to focus the County’s Economic Development mission on developing an actionable strategy to increase opportunities that are tied to sales tax generating functions, along with a Jobs Action Plan that would realize the creation of “living-wage” jobs for Sullivan County residents.
For more information contact David Fanslau at 845-807-0450