Dec 27, 2007 Senior Editor Uncategorized
Sales tax revenue was about on target as of the Madison County Board of Supervisors’ Finance, Ways and Means Committee meeting of Dec. 7, according to Treasurer Cindy Edick. Edick said budget projections for 2007 were held at 2006’s figure, as the county came up a bit short last year.
For the first three quarters this year, the county is about $430,000 ahead of 2006’s projections of revenue retained by the county.
“If it holds the same as last year, we’ll wind up about $115,000 short,” Edick said. “We have seen an increase from 2006 over the last two quarters.”
County administrative assistant Russell Lura said a lot of e-mails went back and forth among budget officers all over the state recently, and many counties are reporting being as much as $400,000 short of projections.
Edick said the county is about $56,000 ahead of projections for November, of which the county retains about 58 percent. She said there’s not much change in Off-Track Betting proceeds from last year’s figures.
“We had been optimistic with Vernon Downs reopening,” Edick said.
But those projections have fallen short, and Vernon Downs’ owners recently have announced that they may have to close the facility due to lower-than-expected profits. In addition, the popular diner The Mason Jar and recently re-opened Shady Grill have closed. The Town and Country Restaurant was recently sold, purchased by Abe Acee, owner of the Nothin’ Fancy Caf (c) in Vernon.
Acee is still working to reopen the former Town and Country.
OTB proceeds are put into a capital reserve fund for major projects, Lura said.
“The original resolution established OTB revenue to be used only for debt service,” said Supervisor Richard O. Bargabos (R — Smithfield).
Edick said a project funded through the New York Power Authority will be paid off this calendar year, and the jail capital project will be paid off in 2009.
Supervisor Scott Henderson (R, I — Oneida Wards 1, 2 and 3) who chairs the FW&M committee said the county would have to rededicate that revenue to another account.
Edick said it would probably be possible to set up a separate cost center in the general fund.
In other business
Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rocco J. DiVeronica attended the FW&M meeting to protest a budget line item for the Madison County Industrial Development Agency.
“I have a problem with the $40,000 [increase] for the IDA,” DiVeronica said. “I think this is a very important part of the county but I was told there would be no additional taxpayer money needed for that building, and they have $600,000 in their account.”
DiVeronica said he is not opposed to the system that approved the increase, but he is “opposed to statements that stuff won’t cost taxpayers, then does.”
Bargabos said DiVeronica’s numbers are incorrect.
“You don’t have the figures right,” Bargabos said.
Bargabos is chairman of the board of directors for the IDA.
Henderson said the county previously provided 65 percent of the IDA’s total payroll. He said the increase amounted to a 77 percent increase.
“You’re always complaining about raises for people,” DiVeronica said.
“Are you going to give me the opportunity to rebut on the floor?” Bargabos said.
“I’m not taking this to the floor, and I’m not going to vote against the budget,” DiVeronica said. “I am taking it here.”
Bargabos told DiVeronica if he were present for the Nov. 27 presentation by IDA Executive Director Kipp Hicks, he would better understand the request and know that it has nothing to do with building expenses.
“Kipp put in a budget request in September, which was reviewed by the IDA board of directors, for $109,000 for the county’s share [of IDA payroll expenses],” Bargabos said. “It was about $67,000 last year.”
The request passed the critique of the planning committee, three members of which also sit on the IDA board.
The request then passed the budget committee’s examination and was included in the tentative budget, Bargabos said. He said Henderson recommended cutting the request back to $70,000, but other members of FW&M voted to retain the figure at the requested $109,000.
“Kipp said we should look at this as an investment, so we can keep the lights on,” Bargabos said. “That way, IDA employees would not have to worry about raising money to pay their salaries, and all proceeds received can then go to programming.”
Bargabos said the IDA budget flatlined for several years, and was maybe even reduced on year.
“This is not the same IDA,” Bargabos said. “This is a new IDA, and it will be the centerpiece of all economic development initiatives in the county.”
Edick said the county’s automobile use tax is about $10,000 over projections so far this year. She said it should meet or exceed the $400,000 in revenue projected for this year.
Health insurance claims are significantly higher this year than last for Blue Cross/Blue Shield consumers, Edick said. She said there has been a transfer of numerous employees to MVP, and union employees changed from BC/BS to the Teamsters carrier.
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