Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks presented the 2014 budget proposal Tuesday night, her 10th proposal since she took office.
The budget includes no property tax increase for the tenth consecutive year, and Brooks says if it’s passed it will reduce the county’s structural deficit for the second year in a row.
She says the reduction to the deficit is unprecedented and will close the gap by about a third of the deficit value.
“The 2014 budget reduces that structural gap by 36 percent, or roughly $35 million. That large reduction has never happened before in the history of this county.”
Democratic minority leader Carrie Andrews says it’s too early to tell what the details of the budget contain, but the money has to come from somewhere.
“Without increasing taxes or making huge cuts to services there has to be something in the budget that will allow her to close the deficit,” Andrews says.
“Each year what we’ve really learned is, until we start asking questions we don’t know what’s in the budget. The reality is tonight she presented a very top level presentation about what’s in there and so until we start digging through the details we won’t know.”
Brooks’ budget proposes an operating budget for the county of just over $1 billion for the second year in a row.
But, Brooks says this year they’re saving money, cutting spending by nearly four-million-dollars.
She says that’s good for the taxpayers but it doesn’t come without making some difficult choices.
“We will continue to reduce the head count in Monroe County for 2014 by nearly 121 full time equivalent positions for a savings of $6 million.”
Brooks says layoffs are always a last resort, and will account for only 15 of those positions.
Andrews says it’s always a positive step when as many workers as possible keep their jobs.
She says there are bound to be details in the budget that need some work, but Democrats do support Brooks’ proposal to freeze step increases for county management personnel.
Brooks says that’s a move that would save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Next year, management and professional employees will not be receiving any step increases or cost of living adjustments. That’s going to save the county about $1 million, a tremendous commitment on their part.”