Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The preliminary 2013 Orleans County Budget presented Wednesday by the county’s chief administrative officer features spending and property tax increases despite savings from a further reduction in county services.
The $15.7 million tax levy in CAO Chuck Nesbitt’s $76.1 million budget projection comes in at $76,289 under the limit set by the terms of the state’s tax cap legislation. Property taxes are set to rise 1.25 percent to $9.71 per every $1,000 in assessed value. The levy represents a 1.7 percent increase over the 2012 levels.
Nesbitt told legislators that the proposed spending plan does include areas of relief for taxpayers in the form of including reductions in wages and health insurance costs. Nesbitt said health insurance costs are down nearly $150,000 to negotiated benefit levels decreasing and increased employee participation.
Wages are down in part to the net-reduction of eight full-time positions.
“We are smaller, more nimble and better prepared to face what continues to be an uncertain future,” Nesbitt said.
Legislature Chairman David Callard said he was pleased by the year-to-year cost savings shown in the budget.
“I’m encouraged by the lower health insurance and wage costs,” Callard said. “We’ve brought our wages and staffing carefully down by 10 percent, but that will become increasingly difficult (to continue).”
The largest county employee reduction recommended by the budget is the elimination of eight full-time positions in the Mental Health Department. Five of those reductions come from eliminating the Continuing Day Treatment Program, which provides a service for people requiring assistance with daily living skills but are also able to live at home. The move was unanimously approved by the county’s community services board.
Nesbitt said the state has cut funding for continuing day treatment, which made keeping the program unfeasible. Genesee County has agreed to accept Orleans County clients into their program.