Thursday, February 03, 2011
Monticello – County Manager David P. Fanslau released a list of budget cuts of about $2 million that was discussed with the County Legislature, and he responded to some of the inaccurate statements that have been made by the Teamsters Union Local No. 445 and others. The 2011 Sullivan County Budget spends nearly $200,000 less than the 2010 budget with no property tax increase, and it also provided a plan to keep all employees on board at 2010 levels, with a wage freeze and longevity bonus freeze for 2011.
“It is unfortunate that the County was unable to convince the labor unions to accept the concept of keeping all employees employed at 2010 levels,” said Fanslau. The 4% salary increases will require a $2 million expense, and the cuts that have been authorized by the County Legislature will cut nearly $2 million from the adopted 2011 budget to fund the salary increases. The $1.3 million in 2011 longevity bonuses are scheduled to be paid in January 2012, and additional cuts will be necessary later in 2011.
The nearly $2 million in cuts reflect the need to abolish 32 vacant positions and 17 filled positions, to provide the $2 million associated with the 4% salary increases required by the collective bargaining agreements. Further cuts may be necessary later in 2011 to fund the $1.3 million in longevity bonuses. Sullivan County will also need to identify additional cuts in response to cuts in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget that will impact Sullivan County.
“An initial overview of the Governor’s Executive Budget will eliminate $400,000 in revenue that is included in the 2011 Sullivan County Budget associated with Video Lottery Terminals at the Monticello Casino and Raceway, as the State will keep that revenue, and the Executive Budget may eliminate nearly $300,000 in aid to fund the Probation Department,” said Fanslau. “We are also concerned that the 10% cut for all State Agencies will trickle down to significant cuts that will impact Counties, the amount of which is unknown,” Fanslau said.
“Clearly, we will need to adjust the 2011 budget to react to the cuts in the State Budget. The process is a sham, since counties are required to adopt a calendar year budget, including local property taxes to pay for State mandated services, only to have promised funding cut well into the second quarter of the County’s fiscal year,” said Fanslau.
The Teamsters Union has indicated that certain Federal Medicaid Assistance Program “revenues” were not included in the 2011 budget. The fact is that the New York State Department of Health had failed to provide Sullivan County with an amount associated with the FMAP funding prior to the November 15, 2010 deadline for the tentative budget, nor prior to the statutory December 20, 2010 deadline to adopt the 2011 budget. Sullivan County received a notice on December 27, 2010 stating that the weekly transmittal of funds that are required to be sent to Albany for Medicaid would be reduced for a total of $1.3 million.
“The County Legislature has acknowledged to me that if the $1.3 million of FMAP Medicaid reductions were available either prior to November 15, 2010 or December 20, 2010, then the $6.9 million of appropriated Fund Balance would have been reduced from $6.9 million to $5.6 million, as both “revenue” sources are one-shot non-recurring revenues,” said Fanslau.
The Teamsters Union has stated that there were $1.6 million of vacant positions funded in the 2011 budget. All of the positions funded in the budget were requested by the elected officers, division commissioners, and department heads. The County share or general fund value of those vacant positions was about $265,000, not $1.6 million.
“The $3.3 million that is associated with the wage freeze and longevity bonus freeze represents net County share dollars. Therefore, the cuts must be net County share dollars. The layoffs include those vacant positions that were funded, but will be abolished first, prior to the layoff of a filled position, for a total of about $265,000,” said Fanslau.
The Teamsters Union has stated that management confidential employees were provided salary increases in 2010. That is factually incorrect. The only management confidential employees to receive additional compensation were Assistant District Attorneys in 2010. “The data provided to the news media was apparently from the State Comptroller’s web site, however, that site reflects pension reporting numbers on a State fiscal year basis, not a calendar year basis that the County budget uses as a fiscal year,” said Fanslau. The County Legislature adopted a salary schedule for management confidential employees and a reallocation of negotiated union titles in 2008 that were effective for 2009. Therefore, the State Comptroller’s web site would not have reported the salaries authorized in 2009 until the filing for April 1, 2010.
The Teamsters Union has stated that there were “very costly miscalculations” that were made by Legislators and County Manager Fanslau related to the landfill, the County Jail, and the SCCC windmill.
“During my tenure as County Manager, fiscal staff performed an analysis that proved that the Phase II expansion of the Landfill was fiscally infeasible, and I inherited a $40 million solid waste debt that was created years before my tenure as County Manager,” said Fanslau. These facts are contained in the annual financial statements that are on file.
“The contract to hire an Architect to design a new County Jail was let in July 2005, more than a year prior to my tenure as County Manager,” added Fanslau. “In fact, I had my fiscal staff perform numerous analyses on the affordability of the County Jail, and although a new facility will be needed, now is not the appropriate time to move that project forward, without a dedicated revenue source to pay for the debt service,” said Fanslau.
“The SCCC Windmill was not a County Government project, and neither the County, nor the County Manager was involved with the windmill project prior to launching an investigation and inquiring about litigation surrounding that project,” stated Fanslau.
There have been statements that the County entered into collective bargaining agreements in 2008 when they knew the economy was going to get worse. To the contrary, historical indicators in November of 2008 would not have projected the dramatic impact upon revenues that the “Great Recession” has had. If the recession had not occurred, and revenues grew conservatively in 2009 and 2010, then there would have been $16 million of additional revenues available for the 2011 budget.
“The collective bargaining agreements authorized in November of 2008 were for a five-year period, and provided for an average annual salary increase of 2.9%, which is in line with the two previous labor contract terms ranging from an average 2.6% to 3.25% annual salary increases,” stated Fanslau.
“The fact is that the employer pension contribution rate was 8% in 2008, but has been increased to 16.2% in 2011. The State Comptroller has not set the employer rate above 15% since 1985,’ said Fanslau. “Therefore, it would have not have been accepted by the unions, if we would have suggested that the rate would have climbed to 11% in 2010 and 16.2% in 2011,” concluded Fanslau.
For additional information contact David Fanslau 845-807-0450