MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello outlined his tentative 2019 budget to the County Legislature during a meeting Wednesday evening, a budget that’s balanced without an increase in sales and property tax rates.
In addition, Borrello said the budget will be balanced without the use of unassigned general fund balance for the first time in at least a decade.
“A balanced budget signifies that we are able to live within our means without a burdensome tax increase lurking year after year,” Borrello said. Borrello told the legislature that his tentative budget totals more than $254 million, while holding total spending increases to just above $200,000, or less than 0.1%.
The County’s top official said his goal when starting the process was to “deliver a structurally balanced budget that covers recurring expenses with recurring revenue,” while also preventing an increase in property taxes and a reduction in the delivery of services.
Borrello said that the county will remain barely above the minimum recommended amount per a financial policy adopted by the legislature as long as there isn’t an increase or use of general fund balance in the future.
The County Executive said that the County overcame a “steep hill” after facing a large budget deficit for the 2019 budget.
“We started out the budget this year with a more than $4 million budget deficit for the 2019 budget, which is a steep hill to climb,” Borrello said.
Borrello stated “circumstances out of our control” forced the legislature and his predecessor, Vince Horrigan, to use the undesignated fund balance, or the county’s “savings account”, to balance the budget. The 2018 adopted budget used $6.4 million from the undesignated fund balance.
Borrello added that $19 million was left in the fund balance, which was 8.33% of the revenues. He claimed that a comfortable and responsible reserve should fall between five and 15 percent.
An accounting adjustment was made earlier this year that moved $4.2 million from undesignated to capital reserve, leaving just 6.48% in that undesignated fund balance according to Borrello.
Borrello thanked his budget team, Finance Director Kitty Crow, Budget Director Kathleen Dennison, Principal Account Clerk Jenelle Hansen, and the rest of the team.
“Everyone stepped up. We now hand this (tentative budget) over to the Legislature for all your due diligence,” Borrello said. “I look forward to working with all of you to pass what could potentially be a historic county budget.”
WNYNewsNow will have more coverage on the legislature meeting. Multimedia journalist Justin Gould contributed to this report.