A four-hour meeting of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday resulted in only a handful of small budget cuts.
It was the first of two scheduled budget workshops designed to whittle away at the 9.4 percent property tax levy increase required by the $88.8 million tentative budget proposed Nov. 13.
“We’re trying to make a good budget, not just a smaller budget,” Chairman Michael Gendron pointed out several times throughout the meeting.
As a result, most of the cuts were relatively small and there were some isolated line-item increases. All together, the board brought the tax levy increase down by half a percentage point, to 8.9 percent.
The single largest cut was made to the public defender’s office. Each year the office asks for $20,000 to be put toward additional investigation to aid in cases.
Broadalbin Town Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo pointed out that while much more has at times been spent, the public defender hasn’t spent even one quarter of the full amount in the past two years. He suggested investigative services be cut by half in 2013, saving the county $10,000.
“Its a crapshoot,” Gendron said, adding that if there is a murder next year, or any higher-profile cases, the board might have to come up with extra money. Even so, the motion was passed.
The jail maintenance budget was also cut in half. Jail administrators ask for $10,000 each year, which goes to any needed repairs, such as locking mechanisms and transport vehicles that breaks down.
In many past years, the fund was nearly exhausted, but since buying a new van, maintenance costs fell to just over $2,000 in 2012.
Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born suggested cutting the maintenance fund by $2,500 but an amendment calling for deeper cuts was passed instead.
A few thousand dollars was also cut from various parts of the treasurer’s requested funding and a handful of other places.
Then much of the amount cut was nullified by increasing the state tourism match by $19,713.
In the end, spending in the $88.8 million plan was cut by $4,432.
Revenue, however, was increased $145,000 with the addition of encumbrance money left over from 2012.
County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch explained department heads maintain reserves to pay outstanding bills from past years. Some estimated too high initially and found extra funds as the budget talks progressed.
No decisions were made regarding additional use of the fund balance at Monday’s meeting. The board has already applied $1.5 million of its estimated $8.5 million unappropriated reserve. Kuntzsch said the board will likely use more of that balance at its second budget workshop next Monday.
The board plans to adopt the new budget following the workshop and two public hearings held at 1:30 and 7 p.m.
“We hope to make more cuts,” Kuntzsch said.