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County Executive proposed Tax Levy $180 Million, County Legislature proposed Tax Levy $135 Million

Another topic facing the Legislature this year was funding for some of the arts organizations. The question is should county taxpayers be supplementing the arts budgets if these organizations cannot survive on their own attendance? Last year, the legislature re-established the Cultural Resources Trust. The Cultural Resources Trust is an organization, put in place by the Executive and the Legislature, which collects fees by acting as the "borrower" for not-for-profit organizations in the community. In 2009, at the presentation of re-establishing this Trust, the comments from the Executive's Office were that this Trust would or could offset the arts dependency on the county budget. Therefore, the Legislature has chosen to use the Trust for this purpose. We respectfully request that the Cultural Resources Trust fund these arts organizations, thereby removing this funding from the property taxpayer rolls.

The last matter about this budget that has received criticism is the use of fund balance and increasing revenue projections. For the 2010 budget, the Legislature used fund balance to the tune of $8 million, and we had no problem replenishing that amount. For 2011, the Legislature authorized the use of $12 million of fund balance. That leaves a balance of over $66 million dollars! Why should we tax for money to put into our savings when we have more than enough in our savings to begin with? It doesn't make sense and it is not good government. I would like to further defend the increasing of revenue projections: the Executive's proposal projected sales tax revenues at a 1.1-percent increase over last year. Currently, we have been running at about a 6-percent increase for the last three quarters. The Legislature simply believes this projection is overly conservative, so we raised the revenue projection to a still conservative 3-percent increase. I believe we could have gone higher, but under the advisement of our comptroller, it was in our best interest to not over project, so we set the sales tax projection at an amount that is attainable.

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