County OKs 2023 Budget With Spending Up, Tax Rate Down | News, Sports, Jobs

County legislators unanimously approved the 2023 spending plan.
P-J photo by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE – The dollars shifted, but the amounts remained the same.

Wednesday night the Chautauqua County Legislature unanimously approved the 2023 county budget.

The approved spending plan has a real property tax levy of $69,681,835 with an estimated full value tax rate of $7.80 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

The approved levy and tax rate are the same as proposed by County Executive PJ Wendel last month.

The 2022 budget has a tax levy of $66,912,293, with a tax rate of $8.10.

This is the second year in a row the county has cut the tax rate. The 2021 budget had a tax rate of $8.51 and the 2020 budget had a tax levy of $8.46 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

During budget review meetings earlier this month, legislators discussed a number of changes. In the resolution, there were 43 changes made to Wendel’s proposed budget. Two more were made from the floor Wednesday night. However none of the changes made affected the tax rate.

To pay for the changes, legislators eliminated the $941,000 that was proposed to go to a new soccer field at JCC’s Jamestown campus. The college and the state were required to match that before the construction could take place, had the county given its approval.

Instead, county lawmakers said they wanted to explore other options, including expanding Diethrick Park, where the Jamestown Tarp Skunks play.

There was also a lot of discussion earlier this month for the new Medical Assisted Treatment program the county must implement at the jail. The price tag for 2023 alone is a little over $1 million. To pay for it, the county is using some of the opioid settlement funds. But those funds won’t last forever. Officials are hoping the state picks up more in the future.

Last month, Wendel said the county had $29 million in its fund balance, which was 11.6% of revenue. The county’s goal is to keep the fund balance between 5% and 15%.

In the 2023 budget, the county is using $4.5 from the fund balance. Wendel said last month that even using that amount the fund balance will be “above the midpoint of our targeted range.”

This year’s levy is up 4.14%. By using the fund balance, the county did not go over the state’s tax cap, which would have required special legislation.

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