LOCKPORT – All Niagara County departments have been ordered to reduce the cost of their programs by a further 3 percent for 2013, in preparation for the proposed budget, which is to be released Nov. 15.
Departments had already been given reduction goals, so the 3 percent would be an additional cut, said Legislature Chairman William L. Ross.
Legislator Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport, revealed the 3 percent mandate at Thursday’s meeting of the county Board of Health, of which he is a member.
“It’s a starting point for them,” he said after the meeting.
A 3 percent cut in this year’s property tax levy, which is sometimes referred as county cost, would equal a budget reduction of $2.15 million.
The spending side of this year’s budget totaled $316.5 million, with a tax levy of nearly $71.8 million.
County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz, whose job it is to prepare the budget, said earlier last week he would not be disclosing any information about it until Nov. 15, which is the deadline set in state law for counties’ tentative budgets to be filed.
Glatz and Budget Director Daniel R. Huntington did not return calls seeking comment.
Thomas C. Beatty, Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said the departments were given budget goals and also were instructed not to disclose them.
“We submitted a budget that included cuts, but one that Sheriff [James R.] Voutour believes still provides for the safety of the county,” Beatty said. He said it does not include reductions in personnel.
That’s not the case at the Health Department, whose budget is discussed publicly because the department is officially overseen by the Board of Health.
Deputy Public Health Director Victoria Pearson told the board that the Health Department’s budget for 2013, as it currently stands, crosses out five positions, two currently vacant and three that would result in layoffs.
“We are still in negotiations [with Glatz and Huntington], trying to swap positions for positions,” Pearson told the board. “We’re still waiting for an answer from Jeff Glatz.”
The Health Department originally had been ordered to make a 9.5 percent cut for 2013, but because of rising costs in state-mandated preschool programs, the department originally submitted an increase in spending.
Closure of the Refuse Disposal District’s only active landfill is being considered as part of the 2013 budget.
In a June 26 memo obtained by The Buffalo News, Glatz recommended the immediate shutdown of that landfill, which takes only construction and demolition debris from contractors.
The memo envisioned the layoff of five Refuse District employees as of Jan. 1, with plans to have the landfill capped by August.
However, the landfill is still operating, and options to keep it going, because it makes a profit, were presented Monday at a Refuse District board meeting. The district board is a committee of legislators.