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Brooks Unveils 2013 Budget

Brooks Unveils 2013 Budget

Maintaining a steadfast commitment to protect local taxpayers, County Executive Maggie Brooks today presented her proposed Budget for 2013. The County Executive’s 2013 Operating Budget, a 0.6% increase over 2012, includes no property tax increase for the ninth consecutive year, holds spending below inflation, and cuts the County’s mandate-fueled structural deficit by over 10%, all while responsibly funding quality-of-life services.
“Monroe County’s 2013 budget stands as a shining example of just how much a government can do when it strives to live within its means while enhancing the lives of the people it serves,” said Brooks. “This budget maintains my steadfast commitment to protect local taxpayers by stabilizing property taxes for the ninth straight year, holding spending below the rate of inflation, significantly cutting a mandate-fueled structural deficit, and responsibly funding the vital services that contribute to our community’s world-class quality of life.”

A Legacy of Tax Stability
For an unprecedented ninth consecutive year, Brooks has honored her commitment to local taxpayers by proposing a stable property tax rate. The 2013 Budget preserves the property tax cut that Brooks delivered in 2008, and maintained over the last four years in the midst of a deepening national economic recession, holding the rate flat at $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. As a result, the property tax rate is lower now than when Brooks took office and she becomes the first Executive in County history to hold the rate flat for nine straight years. The Budget also complies with the New York State Property Tax Cap.

“Protecting local taxpayers has been the guiding principle in every budget I have presented since taking office as County Executive,” said Brooks. “Because property tax stability is a commitment that I will not compromise on, I am proud that our 2013 Budget provides a ninth consecutive year with a stable property tax rate for homeowners in our community.”

Spending Held Below Inflation; Complies with Taxpayer Protection Act
A testament to Brooks’ continued commitment to fiscal responsibility, the 2013 Budget holds non-mandated spending – or the spending that the County can control on a local level – below the rate of inflation.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), an indicator used to determine changes in the rate of inflation, currently stands at 2.0%. The 2013 Budget succeeds in holding non-mandated spending to an increase of only 1.6%, putting it in full compliance with the Taxpayer Protection Act. The Act, which was proposed by Brooks and passed by the County Legislature in 2007, serves as a first-of-its-kind local property tax cap by requiring annual increases in discretionary spending to be no greater than the rate of inflation.

A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility – Past, Present, & Future
As a direct result of years of forward thinking financial planning, and with an eye on protecting taxpayers in the future, Brooks’ 2013 Budget cuts the County’s mandate-fueled structural deficit by more than 10% for the 2014 and 2015 budget forecasts.

As costs mandated by New York State and the Federal government have continued to outpace the growth of local revenues, most New York counties face year-over-year deficits. Many have been forced to adopt drastic solutions, including double digit property tax rate hikes, slashed funding for public safety services, and massive layoffs.

Brooks’ 2013 Budget not only avoids such drastic solutions to achieve balanced spending, it draws upon years of fiscal restraint to secure an unprecedented cut to the County’s annual structural deficit. The deficit reduction, projected at $11.0 million, will enable the County to do even more to protect local taxpayers in the future.

“Our 2013 Budget achieves the unprecedented by significantly reducing the County’s mandate-fueled structural deficit,” said Brooks. “As a result of forward thinking financial planning and fiscally responsible balanced budgets, the County can simultaneously protect taxpayers and maintain vital services now, while cutting the deficit for the years to come.”

Bridging the Gap to a Balanced 2013 Budget
To address the County’s mandate-fueled structural resource gap for the coming year, the 2013 Budget reduces under-utilized and non-essential County infrastructure, calls for the sale of some property tax liens, and applies a fund balance carried-forward from budget year 2012. These non-property-tax-bearing solutions, in combination with personnel reductions, departmental efficiencies, and minor revenue enhancements, enabled Monroe County to successfully close a $48.1 million structural resource gap for 2013.

A Top-Down Dedication to Fiscal Responsibility
For budget year 2013, Monroe County again set aggressive internal budget targets to control costs and do more with less. Embracing Brooks’ commitment to fiscal discipline, Monroe County’s internal departments, offices, and divisions worked to identify and secure $6.0 million in operational efficiencies for the coming year.

The savings were achieved through a combination of innovative cost-avoidance measures, including the effective management of vacancies for funded positions, workforce health insurance savings, strict oversight of capital expenses and debt service, and implementation of general efficiencies across county government.

Medicaid Swap A Proven Success
Brooks has officially locked-in $30 million in local Medicaid savings, as the County will now transition from its innovative Swap Option to a hard-cap municipal Medicaid payment plan proposed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The Swap option, which was proposed by Brooks and subsequently passed by the Monroe County Legislature in 2007, acted as a local cap on Medicaid growth and produced $30 million in savings. The County will now transition from the Swap option to Cuomo’s hard-cap model, which limits local Medicaid growth to 2% in 2013-14, 1% in 2014-15, will reach zero growth in 2015-16, and be carried-over at zero growth for each year thereafter.
“Five years after Monroe County lifted the burden of Medicaid off the backs of local property taxpayers, I am proud that the Medicaid Swap option is a proven success,” said Brooks. “Having secured $30 million in savings, the Swap played a huge role in helping to guide our community through one of the most challenging national economic crises of our time.”

No Reductions to Quality-of-Life Services
Under Brooks’ leadership, Monroe County has been recognized as one of the top ten places in the world poised for greatness and one of the best places in the country to raise a family, among other accolades. The 2013 Monroe County Budget responsibly maintains the services that are vital to maintaining our community’s high quality of life, including in the areas of parks, public safety, and transportation infrastructure.

Leading the Fight for Mandate Reform
The single largest portion of Monroe County’s 2013 Budget is mandated spending, which accounts for a staggering 83% of the County’s total spending for the coming year.
“When the State requires counties to deliver services, but refuses to provide funding to cover those services, taxpayers pay the price,” said Brooks. “I am asking all of my colleagues in the County Legislature to raise their voices and join me in the fight for real mandate reform, so we can finally move from a goal of tax stability to a reality of tax relief for local families.”