Allegany County government surplus rises again to more than annual property taxes

Independent audit report includes a look at where money came from and went in
Allegany County government last year. Click on the image and then use the “+” icon
for an enlarged view.

BREAKING – EXCLUSIVE: Allegany County, NY, government ended last year with several million dollars more than budgeted, making up a large portion of the $7.5 million which legislators set aside for undetermined economic development projects to avoid providing significant property or sales tax decreases to county residents.

The county currently has the second highest property tax rate in the state and the third highest sales tax.

The numbers appeared last week in an independent auditor’s report filed with the Clerk of the Board of Legislators, combined with a prior county submission to the State Comptroller.

Auditors reported that the county received nearly $6.6 million in revenues over expenses, requiring no use of the $4.3 million which county legislators applied to the budget to provide a slight average tax decrease of 24-cents per $1,000 this year, based on true valuation.

Of the 29 towns, however, 14 had rates above the average due to assessment equalization rates, with the highest variance being $2.05 above the $14.59 average.

Financial examiners also reported an unassigned fund balance, or surplus, at the end of last year of nearly $32.8 million, some $3.4 million more than the entire county property tax levy for 2022.

Legislators were told last year that with normal set asides for cash flow and other needs, there was an estimated $11 million which could be used if they wanted to reduce taxes.

The $11 million level would have been equal to an approximately 38 percent reduction in property taxes, nearly half of the 4.5 percent county sales tax rate, or some combination of the two.

Auditors reported that in spite of rising costs last year, the county ended its 12-month cycle at only some $200,000 above the prior year’s expenditures, while sales tax and other revenues in total greatly exceeded budgeted amounts.

County Treasurer Terri Ross is scheduled to provide a sales tax report at Wednesday’s meeting of the board’s Ways and Means Committee which shows sales tax receipts through the first half of this month being just five percent, or some $1.2 million, under the entire year’s budgeted tally of $23.5 million..

Last year, some $6.28 million was received between mid-October and the end of 2021 which, if the trend continues, would result in some $5 million in another sales tax revenue windfall for this year.

October numbers also are starting to reflect the additional revenue the county is receiving by having let the three months sales tax cap on gasoline and motor fuels expire at the end of August.

County legislators may receive a tentative 2023 budget on Wednesday during meetings of their Budget and Ways and Means committees. A tentative county schedule which was circulated earlier reflected a presentation date of last Wednesday.
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