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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Though Not Set in Stone, It's Still Good:
Expenditures to increase, tax rate to decrease in tentative 2022 Wyoming County budget

Wyoming County continues to see the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact in its proposed 2022 budget. The county has received slightly less than $7.8 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding. That means although allocations are expected to increase, its tax rate would be less than in 2021.

“The ARPA funding has provided direct county support, alleviating pressure to raise local tax dollars to cover critical capital expenditures,” said County Budget Officer Janis Cook in her 2022 budget message. “This revenue was a key component to stay under the tax cap. This was extremely important considering the economic pressures we are all facing.”

Budget details include:
■ Spending under the tentative budget would increase 3.95 percent to $162.76 million.

■ The full value tax rate would decrease 6.32 percent to $9.10 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means the average owner of a house assessed at $100,000 would pay $910 in county taxes, representing a $61 decrease compared to 2021.

Those estimates do not reflect additional amounts which could be added for workers compensation, the Board of Elections, the Recycling Program or other re-levies or corrections. Tax rates in individual towns may also vary widely, depending on equalization rates.

■ The general fund tax levy, or amount to be paid in taxes, would increase 1.05 percent to $24.7 million.

The increase is largely driven by an increase in the county’s General Government fund, reflecting added positions in the county Treasurer’s Office, IT Department, and Buildings and Grounds. The levy estimate also includes a contingency line — the county’s CSEA union employees have been without a contract in 2021 and wage adjustments are anticipated once an agreement is reached.

In an effort to reduce the tax levy, the county would allocate a total of $2.19 million in surplus funds including $1.55 million from the general fund; $500,000 from the highway fund; and $136,434 from the machinery fund.

“State and federal revenue continue to be a valuable resource as programs and initiatives are implemented,” Cook said. “Specifically, funds allocated to the Public Health Department allowing for additional staffing and support as the pandemic continues to be a concern.”

■ The hospital fund takes up the largest portion of the budget at 46.59 percent or $75.83 million. It’s followed by the general fund at 45.04 percent or $73.3 million.

The remaining spending includes the highway fund at 5.66 percent or $9.22 million; the workers compensation fund at 1.67 percent or $2.72 million; the machinery fund at 0.76 percent or $1.24 million; and the building equipment capital reserve at 0.28 percent or $450,000.

■ The tentative budget estimates $20 million in sales tax revenues will be collected. That amount is about $1.1 million more than was budgeted in 2021. A total of $425,000 has been budgeted to cover the negative impact of the State Imposed Diversion of Local Sales Tax aimed at covering state expenses.

■ The county’s total debt as of Nov. 9 was $31,772,750. That total is $516,806 more than the 2021 amount of $31,255,944.

■ No salary increases are scheduled for management or elected personnel.

■ A public hearing on the tentative budget will be conducted 11:30 a.m. Nov. 30 at the county Government Center on 143 North Main St.

Copies of the proposed budget are available at the Government Center and online at www.wyomingco.net.

American Rescue Plan Act

The tentative 2022 Wyoming County Budget lists several projects and uses for its ARPA funding. Uses include:

■ Revenue recovery loss.

■ Capital improvement projects including generator replacements, roofing projects, 911 phone system replacement, repairs to the county’s fire burn tower, and building entrance improvements.

■ Capital equipment investments including IT infrastructure updates, replacement vehicles, and replacement electronic voting machines.

■ Local business and tourism support including a micro-loan program through the Wyoming County Business Center; a “Fresh Air Adventures” tourism campaign and website redesign for the Wyoming County Tourism Promotion Agency; and supporting the Silver Lake dredging project.

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