Budget and Finance Committee Meeting
December 6, 2004 8:00 a.m.
Members present: Kurt Behrenfeld, Chairman; Marilyn Brown; Kay Breed; Newell Willcox; Dr. Paul DiGiovanni, Vice Chairman; Scott Steve, Chairman of the Legislature.
Others present: Ann Homer, Scott Schrader, John Carroll, Bill Cinquanti, John Steger, Scott Elston, Don Ferris, Betsy Larkin, Brian Liberatore
Absent: Carol Tytler (notified committee chairman), Danny Ross, Dr. Paul DiGiovanni, Danny Ross
Chairman Behrenfeld called the meeting to order 8:03 a.m.
Mrs. Brown moved adoption of the minutes of the meetings of November 10, 2004, November 17, 2004, November 19, 2004 and November 22, 2004 meeting; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor, none opposed; minutes approved as printed.
1. Revise 2005 Tentative Budget – Dr. DiGiovanni moved adoption; seconded by MR. Ross. All members voting in favor except Mrs. Breed, Mrs. Brown, and Mr. Willcox opposed; Resolution adopted. Mrs. Breed indicated that she wants the tax increase below 3%. Mrs. Brown is concerned about the Constitutional limit of the tax levy. Mr. Schrader indicated that we need to cut $160,000 to go below the 3% tax levy. Mr. Schrader corrected his statement; we need to cut $47,000. Mr. Willcox moved to cut $50,000 from Retirees’ Health Insurance; seconded by Mrs. Breed. All members voting in favor; none opposed; amendment adopted. Mrs. Brown moved to reconsider the vote on this resolution; seconded by Dr. Paul DiGiovanni; all members in favor of reconsideration. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted. With this additional cut of $50,000, the tax increase will now be 2.9%. Mr. Schrader explained that there is a report of committee that needs to be forwarded to the Legislature. The Legislature needs to adopt this report via resolution, in order to enact the changes committee has made. Mrs. Breed stated that the committee has not finished its work yet. Mr. Schrader explained that the report will be attached to the resolution and can be changed at today’s meeting and then attached to the resolution. Mr. Behrenfeld indicated that there has been a $465,000 decrease in the budget as a result of the work of the committee. Why don’t we have a report reflecting those changes? We should at least have those available today. Mr. Schrader indicated that it is printing currently. Mrs. Breed feels that we are not done cutting more from the budget; we will cut more today. Mrs. Brown indicated that she will not accept any "adopt budget" resolutions until the committee has completed its work on the budget.
2. Adopt 2005 Tentative Budget – Dr. DiGiovanni moved adoption; seconded by Mrs. Brown. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted..
3. Authorizing Accounts Payable Year End Adjustments to 2004 Budget– Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mr. Willcox. "by the February 2005 session was added." All members voting in favor; none opposed; amended resolution adopted. Mr. Schrader indicated that he currently has the authority to move $10,000 in the budget within certain categories and there are restrictions on moving money. In the course of year-end close out, negative balances will show up on ytd expenditure reports, which may, in some instances, exceed $10,000. In order to comply with Comptroller’s and independent auditor requirements, there is a need to balance out those accounts. This resolution authorizes the County Administrator and County Treasurer to balance out these accounts and to move money as needed. The committee and Legislature will receive a report on what money was moved and in what manner. Mrs. Brown asked in what timeframe changes will be reported. Mr. Schrader indicated by the February 2005 session.
Mr. Schrader indicated that resolutions 4, 5, and somewhat 6 are related to the adoption of the budget. Resolution 1 is to adopt the budget with the committee adjustments; 2 is to adopt the budget as it may be amended Thursday evening at session. Today, instructions will be sent to the members of the Legislature as to how to amend the budget – the changes must be balanced. Mr. Schrader will offer his assistance in crafting resolutions so that the changes balance and the account numbers are correct; also, this will allow all the members to have the proposed resolutions. Once these resolutions are adopted at session, it will be necessary to recess for up to a half hour to allow the Director of Real Property to complete the resolutions so the levies can be calculated and input into the resolution. Today’s action merely allows the resolutions to be put on the Legislative agenda.
Resolutions 9 through 14 are a town function, however, they appear on the tax bill. Mr. Schrader explained that after the redemption period has expired, the County has to re-levy so that the property owner can continue to pay. Mr. Cinquanti indicated that the County pays the water bill to the Town. This is an annual function. We cannot really change these numbers; it is a town function. It is not budget related but it is tax bill related. Mr. Cinquanti indicated that we do not have Scott’s tax levy yet.
Mrs. Brown moved adoption of 4 and 5 as a block; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolutions 4 and 5 adopted.
4. Amend 2005 Budget to Reflect State Administered Non Property (Sales Tax) to Reduce Real Property Tax Levy– moved adoption; seconded by .
5. Levy County Tax, City of Cortland– moved adoption; seconded by .
Mrs. Brown moved adoption of 6-14 as a block ; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolutions 6-14 adopted.
6. Fix Date to Sign Warrants
7. Levying Town Special District Taxes
8. Levy Town General and Highway Taxes
9. Levying Water Charges – Town of Scott
10. Levying Water Charges – Town of Cincinnatus
11. Levying Water Charges – Town of Cortlandville
12. Levying Water Charges – Town of Harford
13. Levying Sewer Charges – Town of Cortlandville
14. Levying Sewer Charges – Town of Cuyler
15. Authorize Agreement, Real Property Tax Services, OCE Scanner/ Printer– Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted.
16. Establish Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund– Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted.
The members asked for the following items to be removed from the consent agenda: 18, 19, 20, 31
Mr. Willcox moved adoption of the consent agenda minus the above-referenced items; seconded by Mrs. Brown. All members voting in favor; none opposed; consent agenda adopted.
17. Authorize Chairman to Declare Dog Quarantine, Planning Department
18. Establish Policy, Planning Department Administration and Provision of Technical Assistance - Agriculture and Farmland Protection Implementation Projects, Planning Department – Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mrs. Breed. The members asked for clarification on the policy. Mr. Schrader indicated that the Ag Development Restriction program where we basically pay landowner for not developing the land, so it remains forever farmland; previously this program was coordinated by IDA/BDC, which by law cannot receive the grant funds. This places the burden on us; both of them on the Planning Department. There is technical assistance is developing proposals and applications; the second is administrative assistance after the grant has been awarded to the landowners. This policy recoups our costs associated with technical assistance and administrative assistance for this program -- $7,500 for each component to be paid by the landowner. It also establishes that the 25% local match be picked up by the landowner in its entirety. In the past the landowner and the BDC/IDA contributed the 25% through in-kind services. This would required $15,000 being paid to the County before closing. There are two proposals that have been awarded already; they would have to pay the $7,500 only. All members voting in favor; none opposed; motion adopted.
19. Authorize Agreements, Cortland County and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, (Acquiring Conservation Easements on the Leslie F. and Lorraine Chace Farm in the Town of Homer, the Darrell and Ann Henderson Farm in the Town of Preble, and the Russell and Janice Sears Farm in the Town of Preble, Cortland County) – Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mr. Willcox. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted.
20. Create Temporary Custodian, Buildings and Grounds Department – Mrs. Breed moved adoption; seconded by Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown asked why we are classifying one new position for a temporary custodian. Mr. Schrader indicated that we have terminated one cleaner; the position is vacant; however, the incumbent has appeal rights to the position so that we cannot fill it permanently until the appeal is resolved. This title is giving more flexibility in job responsibilities. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted.
21. Authorize Agreements, Health Department/Children With Special Needs (Contract for Services)
22. Authorize Agreement/Accept Funds, Health Department/Children With Special Needs ( NYS Facilitated Enrollment Program)
23. Authorize Agreement/Accept Funds, Health Department/Children With Special Needs Local Department of Social Services)
24, Authorize Agreements, Health Department/Division of Nursing (Beacon Resource Group)
25. Authorize Agreements/Accept Funds, Health Department/Health Administration (Traffic Safety and Injury Prevention Program)
26. Authorize Agreements for 2005, Health Department/Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health (Auditor, Interpreter, and Consultants and/or Facilitators)
27. Authorize Agreement/Accept Funds, Health Department/ Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health (State Grant)
28. Accept Funds, Health Department/Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health (HIV/AIDS SUNY Walkathon Funds)
29. Abolish/Create, Health Department, Administrative Assistant/Principal Medical Services Clerk
30. Authorize Agreements, Mental Health Department (Mental Health Services)
31. Extend Service of Recycling Roll Off Containers Contract, Highway Department/ Recycling – Mrs. Brown moved adoption; seconded by Mr. Willcox. Mrs. Brown asked if we anticipate by March 1 the Recycling Center will be up and running. Mr. Schrader indicated that is the current plan. Mrs. Brown asked about the cost for this service. Mr. Schrader indicated that we have budgeted $10,000 in 2005 for this. All members voting in favor; none opposed; resolution adopted.
32. Amend 2004 Budget/Transfer Funds, Sheriff’s Department (Personal Service Accounts)
33. Amend 2004 Budget/Transfer Funds, Sheriff’s Department/911 Center (Personal Service Accounts)
34. Authorize Agreement, Sheriff’s Department/911 Center (ATT Communications Systems Corporation)
35. Authorize Agreement, Sheriff’s Department (Soft Code, Inc.)
36. Amend Maintenance Agreement, Sheriff’s Department/911 Center (Bio-Key – Aether Systems, Inc.)
37. Renew Agreement, Sheriff’s Department (Creative Information Systems Co.)
38. Appointment of Jail Physician Pursuant to Correction Law § 501
39. Authorize Agreements, Alternatives to Incarceration (NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives)
40. Authorize Agreement, Sheriff’s Department/911 Center (Dialogic Communications Corporation)
41. Authorize Agreement, Sheriff’s Department (Oneida County – Central NY Psychiatric Center Forensic Unit Services)
42. Amend Budget, Department of Social Services (Appropriation and Revenue-HEAP)
43. Authorize Agreement, Youth Bureau (Resource Allocation Plan – NYS Office of Children and Family Services)
44. Amend Budget, Area Agency on Aging (Adult Day Care)
45. Authorize Agreement, Area Agency on Aging (Truxton Senior Center)
46. Accept Bids/ Authorize Purchase, Area Agency on Aging/ Nutrition, Paper Goods and Maintenance Supplies)
47. Accept Bids, Authorize Purchase, Area Agency on Aging/ Nutrition, Miscellaneous Groceries and Frozen Foods
48. Authorize Agreement, Area Agency on Aging (Synergy Software Technologies, Inc.)
49. County Contract Review Process and Standard Form Contract (County Attorney’s Office)
50. Amend 2004 Budget/Transfer Funds, Board of Elections
51. Authorize Agreement, Department of Motor Vehicles (Simplex/Grinnel)
52. Authorize Agreement, County Clerk (Simplex/Grinnel)
53. Renew Agreement with EBS Benefit Solutions Cortland County Cobra Continuation Coverage Plan
54. Renew Agreement with EBS Benefit Solutions Cortland County Dental and Vision Insurance Plan
55. Amend and Restate, Deferred Compensation Plan, Personnel/Civil Service
56. Authorize Agreement, Data Processing Department (MUNIS)
Mr. Schrader distributed a report reflecting the tax levy where we are today as a result of the changes made to the budget by the committee. This reflects a tax levy of over $23 million, with a tax increase of 4.18%.
Mr. Schrader distributed a report entitled "Stop DWI Contract Agencies – Proposed Distribution". He indicated that this distribution for the Stop DWI Program "spreads the pain." Mr. Schrader indicated that we are $28,000 short in the revenue line. He is, therefore, recommending that we tax $18,000 out of our budget and also decrease the allocations to other agencies. If adopted in this manner, this will increase our levy by $18,000.
Mr. Schrader distributed a report reflecting the changes that the departments have said are not feasible. There is about $47,000 in requested changes. Mr. Schrader has removed this amount from Retirees’ Health Insurance in order to balance the requests from the departments. The changes have a netting effect of $0.
Mr. Schrader addressed the changes:
Mrs. Breed asked why in Mental Health – 4310 – 10/10 – are you adding a position? Mr. Schrader indicated we are -- it is a Mental Health Practitioner. This is adding a position rather than contracting with an individual. This money has come out of Professional Services.
Mr. Willcox asked where the reduction in the Health Insurance has come from? Chairman Steve indicated that it is due to the change in our Health Insurance provider.
Mrs. Breed asked why the DARE program was increased? Mr. Schrader indicated that it was not increased. Mrs. Breed asked how this is increasing our levy? Mr. Schrader indicated that we have less revenue, therefore, the department will have to incur more of the cost. The department were booking certain amounts for revenue. The revenue will be short. If we reduce those expenses in the various departments, we have to mitigate the expenses, which is why $18,000 is being increased in the tax levy. Mrs. Breed and Mrs. Brown asked why we can’t look at the department expenses and cut those to offset the decrease revenue. Mr. Schrader explained that these are personnel costs, so the only way to cut costs will be to lay off people; the other expenses in the departments are fixed costs and will exist regardless of the cut in the Stop DWI program. Mrs. Breed asked if there is anything else in the program lines, besides personnel, that can be looked at. Mr. Schrader indicated that departments have cut their operating expenses to the base. Mr. Willcox asked about the boat on Little York Lake and the patrolling on Skaneateles Lake. What does it cost? Chairman Steve indicated that the JPS Committee should look at that. Mrs. Breed asked why we are patrolling Little York Lake, as you can see from one end to the other. Mrs. Brown indicated that if these funds are going to continue to diminish, we are going to have to look at personnel cuts. Chairman Steve indicated that originally, the County Administrator, had planned to cut the DARE officer; however, that is taking an officer off the street. He suggested that everyone assume a part of the cost. Mr. Behrenfeld feels that if the program is working, and you cut it back significantly, you will see an increase in the program. Mrs. Brown indicated that this is a theory and people are getting smarter about drinking and driving. Chairman Steve feels that perhaps the DARE officer can be cut back from full-time to help with this funding pain. Mrs. Breed asked what "Client Enhancements" in Mental Health, page 245 are? Mr. Schrader indicated that these are 100% State Aid. Mrs. Breed asked about transportation in Social Services. Mr. Schrader indicated that this is for client transportation out of the County. Mr. Willcox asked if we have 733 employees? Mr. Schrader indicated that approximately. Mr. Willcox asked if we have cut any positions? Mr. Schrader indicated that we have cut approximately 7 positions; with only one incumbent being cut.
Mr. Willcox moved adoption of the County Administrator’s changes; seconded by Mrs. Brown. All members voting in favor; none opposed; changes adopted.
Chairman Steve indicated that in analyzing the Retirees’ Health Insurance line, $250,000 could be cut. Approximately $50,000 was utilized to fund the above changes. Mr. Behrenfeld asked if this shouldn’t be put in contingency? Chairman Steve indicated that we have reached the 10% fund balance goal, so this savings should be used to offset the levy. As of January 1, 2005, employees’ contributions for health insurance will be reduced 10%. Reducing the tax levy by $200,000 will reduce the levy by about 1%.
Chairman Steve indicated that he would like to reduce the custodian out of the Buildings and Grounds, which will reduce the budget about $13,000. We will have to increase the Highway budget to have them continue the maintenance. Chairman Steve spoke about CRT at Dwyer Park. Mr. Behrenfeld asked Mr. Schrader why he didn’t propose this? Mr. Schrader indicated that at Buildings and Grounds or Highway Committee, it was felt that the maintenance of the park should be put under Buildings and Grounds. Mr. Behrenfeld asked the Chairman if he has spoken to all the parties and if they are in agreement? Chairman Steve indicated that he has and they are. Mr. Schrader indicated that when preparing the budget, he didn’t have information that CRT would assume responsibility for the Pavilion. Mr. Ross moved to cut the Custodian and change all affected lines; seconded by Mrs. Breed. All members voting in favor; none opposed; change adopted. This results in a levy of $22,843,227, which is a 3.24% levy.
Mrs. Breed moved to cut Contingency by $100,000; seconded by Mrs. Brown. Chairman Steve indicated that there are three things with this: MSD, CSEA, and Management. We need to think about this in cutting the Contingency. Chairman Steve indicated that Management raises are long over due.
The committee went in to Executive Session at 9:16 a.m. for the purpose of personnel discussion and came out of Executive Session at 9:29 a.m.
The discussion continued on the $100,000 cut in contingency. Mrs. Breed asked what the total budget is with a result of the cuts made. Chairman Steve indicated that 2% of the 3.2% tax increase is due to Medicaid alone. Mr. Schrader indicated that the budget is approximately $84,750,000. Mr. Schrader indicated that a budget is an estimate based on numerous assumptions. Contingency is there to provide back up for increases in assumptions should the assumptions not hold true (e.g. a larger increase in Medicaid). All members voting in favor, with Dr. DiGiovanni, Mr. Behrenfeld, and Mr. Ross voting no; motion lost.
Mr. Elston asked what the projected surplus is with the budget at $84,750,000? Mr. Schrader indicated $8.5 million. Mr. Elston feels that $250,000 could be moved out of fund balance. Chairman Steve indicated that to cut that further, gives a false bottom. By the closing of the books, we will know exactly what the fund balance is. The estimated closing is the end of March.
Mr. Schrader indicated that the general public needs predictable rates of increases; not 0% for several years and then hit them with a 20.8% increase. If we can maintain a CPI, it will be realistic. Chairman Steve indicated that without the Medicaid increase, we are at the 1.2% tax increase level.
Mr. Willcox asked the status of Albany doing something about Medicaid? The response was that nothing has been done to date and Chairman Steve feels that we shouldn’t rely on Albany. If welfare reform comes through and provides the County with additional funding, then we can put the money back in the pockets of the taxpayer. Mr. Schrader indicated that new construction resulted in an increase of tax receipts to the County of about $772,000; Medicaid increased $500,000.
Mr. Behrenfeld thanked Mr. Ferris for the Balance Sheet the committee received this morning. The committee asked several questions about the Balance Sheet. Mrs. Breed asked for last year’s figures to be placed on the document, so you have a comparative balance sheet. Going forward, she would like this information presented. That way, we can analyze our position. Mr. Ferris will re-work the Balance Sheet and get a new document to the committee.
Dr. DiGiovanni indicated that our goal has been to get a budget done before election. This year, we could not do it because we did not have audited figures. We need the audit done earlier so that the budget can be prepared. He asked Mr. Ferris if the books can be closed by the end of March so an audit can be done. Mr. Ferris indicated that the hold up is the accrual figures from DSS. Dr. DiGiovanni asked how long it would take to close the books after receipt of the accruals from DSS? Mr. Ferris indicated two to three weeks. Dr. DiGiovanni then asked if a goal is set to close the books two to three weeks after receipt of the figures from DSS is reasonable? Mr. Ferris indicated that it should be reasonable. Departments are to have their figures to the Treasurer by the end of February. Once DSS gets the accrual figures to the Treasurer, the books will be closed within a three week time period. Mrs. Breed indicated that Audit Committee functions need to be addressed at the January meeting.
Mr. Ferris indicated that Cash was down, it went up to about $3,000,000. The Retirement BAN will be paid. Regarding foreclosed properties. In 2004 we sent a list of the foreclosed properties to the County Attorney in January; the Legislature allowed redemption until April 30, 2004. The Supreme Court didn’t give it to the Attorney until after April 30, 2004. We still don’t have a Court Order from the Supreme Court giving us the properties. Therefore, we cannot sell the properties we took last year.
The meeting adjourned at 10:05 a.m.