BATAVIA – A $145 million budget for 2013 that holds the property tax rate at its present level was adopted Wednesday by the Genesee County Legislature after weeks of discussion about how state mandates have been eating away at local taxes.
The spending plan calls for a rate of $9.89 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the same as the last two years. The original budget, proposed weeks ago by County Manager Jay A. Gsell, would have raised the rate to $9.97. The adopted lesser levy will cost the average homeowner about $800 a year under current assessment rolls.
The amount of the budget to be raised by local taxes is $26.3 million, about $500,000 more than the current year. The general fund of $101 million is nearly 3 percent higher than 2012.
The budget includes 1.5 percent raises for about a dozen elected officials, but these do not take effect until after a public hearing Dec. 12 and approval by the state.
The county judge and district attorney are the highest paid at $140,000, but their salaries are set by the state. Gsell tops the local payroll with a $1,551 raise to $104,935. Legislators are paid $10,893 a year, but they declined a raise in an “austerity budget.”
The budget’s most controversial element was an annual payment of $215,000 to the Genesee County Economic Development Center. Some legislators objected because the center is paying bonuses, a practice that will end this year. Legislators earlier voted, 5-3, against reducing the amount. Supporters feared cutting the county share would send the wrong message to potential developers.
In other business, the legislators:
• Renewed a contract with Illinois-based Motorola for the sheriff’s radio system. The cost of $92,386 is up by $3,400 over the current year.
• Voted to buy power supply units for two radio tower sites that need to be replaced. The cost of $75,000 is partly offset by a $33,521 insurance claim because of damage caused by a bird strike. The $41,479 balance will come from the building and equipment reserve fund.
• Appropriated $9,300 from the sale of scrap metal recovered from the county’s fire training center to go to a firing range capital project for future use.
• Accepted a $7,140 state traffic safety grant for county participation in the statewide “Buckle Up New York” seat belt campaign for the coming year.