Posted at: 11/13/2012 10:16 PM
Updated at: 11/13/2012 11:15 PM
By: Don Hudson
Let the budget battle begin. Tuesday night Monroe County executive Maggie Brooks presented the one billion dollar spending plan.
So, what is in it? And will your taxes change because of it? Let's jump right into it. Property taxes in Monroe country are not going up. They will remain at $8.99 per $1,000 of your home's assessed value. Parking fines and fees are also staying put. They are not going up. Brooks says the budget also addresses road and bridge infrastructure programs and park programs.
However, the price you pay to go to the zoo is going up. And to save money and to bring in more money - 20 county positions are being eliminated.
Brooks says "For 2013 I asked all departments, divisions and administrations to cut costs." And she says they did just that - reducing county government costs by six million dollars. In addition, during Tuesday night's budget introduction Brooks says the county will also reduce the structural deficit by about 11 million dollars or ten percent. And no one's property tax rate will go up.
"The 2013 budget keeps property taxes stable for the 9th straight year. Holding steady below the rate of inflation. And funding the vital services."
Brooks says state and federal mandates make up 83 percent of the 2013 budget - or 750 million dollars and that is locking up far too much county money. "Counties are having to deal with the mandates, the extra burden and counties have to cut back on services that people want us to provide: veterans services, youth program and senior services."
Because of that some cuts are being made - including 20 county employee positions. Eighteen are currently vacant positions and two workers will be laid off. And Brooks says getting into the zoo next year will cost one dollar more. "There are a lot of infrastructure needs and other needs that we need to take care of at the zoo and this helps us offset those additional costs."
Of course, this is Brooks proposed budget - Carrie Andrews - the Assistant Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus says legislators still need to go through it.
"Obviously the devil is in the details. We'll spend the next few weeks pouring through the budget to find out what is in there."
And she believes legislators will want to make a few changes. "The legislature does have a role here to make this budget the best document it can be for the community."
Here is one example of mandated spending. The Department of Human Services provides things like child welfare, family assistance, day care assistant, safety net assistance and Medicaid. The total budget for next year it 552-million dollars and according to the budget report 99% of it is mandated spending.
The county legislature is set to vote on the budget on December 11.