Brooks Delivers A Decade Of Property Tax Stability
Capping a full decade of property tax stability for local homeowners, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks presented a Budget for 2014 that includes no property tax rate increase for the tenth consecutive year.
Brooks’ 2014 Budget reduces Operating Budget spending by nearly $4 million, holds total spending below inflation, cuts the mandate-fueled structural deficit by more than a third, and complies with the Monroe County Taxpayer Protection Act and the New York State Tax Cap, all while responsibly funding the vital services that contribute to Monroe County’s world-class quality of life.
“The tenth Budget I am submitting as County Executive started with the same commitment as my first – a top-down dedication to protect the taxpayers, families, and businesses that call Monroe County home,” said Brooks. “I’m proud our 2014 Budget provides no property tax rate increase for the tenth consecutive year, reduces Operating Budget spending by nearly $4 million, and cuts the mandate-driven structural deficit by more than a third, all while responsibly funding the services local residents expect and deserve.”
A Full Decade of Property Tax Stability
For an unprecedented tenth consecutive year, Brooks has maintained her steadfast commitment to property tax stability. The 2014 Budget preserves the property tax cut that Brooks delivered in 2008, 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 ten straight years.
“In keeping with my longstanding commitment to protect local taxpayers, our 2014 Budget capitalizes on years of fiscal restraint to cap a full decade of property tax stability for our community,” said Brooks. “In fact, the 2014 budget preserves our historic 2008 tax cut and holds the rate flat at $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means the rate will be lower come January 1st, 2014 than when I took office on January 1st, 2004.”
A Top-Down Dedication to Fiscal Responsibility
Notably, 2014 Operating Budget spending has decreased by $3.8 million from 2013, a direct result of Brooks’ top-down commitment to effectively manage limited resources while aggressively pursuing further efficiencies in County operations. The implementation of strict cost controls and the continued streamlining of services has allowed the County to ensure the burden of mandated spending will be dissipated internally by its Departments and Divisions, rather than borne externally by taxpayers.
As a result, Monroe County will again reduce headcount in 2014 by carefully examining each vacant position and filling only those that provide essential and efficient delivery of service. The County will support 121 fewer full-time-equivalent positions for the coming year, while calling for only 15 layoffs, which will result in an estimated savings of over $6 million. Management and Professional employees will also receive no step increases or cost of living adjustments in 2014, saving approximately $1 million.
“Before we looked for a single penny in savings anywhere else for 2014, my management team agreed to lead by example. The County’s Management and Professional employees will receive no step increases or cost of living adjustments in the coming year, saving $1 million for local taxpayers,” said Brooks. “I’m especially proud that we’ve continued to rein-in spending and shield taxpayers from feeling the full weight of the mandate gap without cutting any of the vital services that support our community’s world-class quality of life.”
Mandate-Driven Structural Deficit Cut by 36%
For the second year in a row, Brooks’ Budget is successful in reducing the County’s long-term, mandate-driven structural deficit. As a result of Monroe County’s dedication to forward-thinking financial planning and its implementation of operational efficiencies to mitigate the burden of mandated spending, the 2014 Budget shrinks the long-term deficit forecast by over 36%, or roughly $34.8 million.
“For the second year in a row, the County is again tackling the ongoing structural deficit caused by mandated expenses. Our 2014 budget reduces the year-over-year structural gap by roughly $35 million, meaning we are cutting the long-term budget deficit by more than a third,” said Brooks. “At a time when other counties are dealing with exploding debt and insurmountable deficits, we are forging a smaller, smarter, and more sustainable government to best serve our community for years to come.”
Bridging the Gap to a Balanced 2014 Budget
Monroe County began its annual budget development process facing a projected $45 million mandate-driven structural deficit for 2014. Through an array of non-tax-bearing revenue enhancements and internal cost avoidance measures, the County was able to use a diversified approach to protect taxpayers and bring the 2014 Budget into balance.
Headcount reduction, management pay freezes, implementation of a self-insurance health benefit payment model, increased Federal reimbursements to the County’s Medicaid costs, updated program cost estimates, refinancing of existing debt, and a variety of internal efficiencies save $29.1 million in the 2014 Budget. Non-tax-bearing revenue enhancements, including the continued responsible sale of tax liens, new Medicaid cost recovery efforts, and updated revenue forecasts, produce $16.7 in revenue. Combined, these measures successfully close the $45.8 million mandate-driven gap for 2014.
Complies with Taxpayer Protection Act and New York State Tax Cap
A testament to Brooks’ continued commitment to fiscal responsibility, the 2014 Budget holds non-mandated spending – or the spending that the County can control on a local level – below the rate of inflation. The Budget succeeds in holding non-mandated spending to an increase of only 1%, 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. The 2014 Budget also complies with the New York State Property Tax Cap.
No Reductions to Vital 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 many other accolades. The 2014 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 2014 Budget is mandated spending, which accounts for a staggering 83% of the County’s total spending for the coming year.
Brooks will continue to work with the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) to advocate for reform of the nine State-mandated programs or services that consume 90% of all property taxes collected State-wide.
“State and federal mandated spending is as big a challenge today as it was when I submitted my first budget ten years ago,” said Brooks. “I recognize Governor Cuomo’s efforts to implement some important reforms, like the State’s hard cap on local Medicaid growth, but there’s no doubt more work remains to be done. I look forward to working with the Governor and our local delegation in Albany to finally bring meaningful mandate reform to fruition.”
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