Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks unveiled her 2013 budget proposal Tuesday night before the full county legislature. Brooks' budget calls for no change in the property tax rate, keeping it flat at $8.99-per thousand dollars of assessed value.
If it passes the legislature, it is the first billion-dollar budget proposal in Monroe County's history; a little more than one billion dollars in spending to be exact. That's a milestone. This proposal, if approved, would knock a full 10 percent or $11 million off the county deficit. That would be the first time since Maggie Brooks has been in office that a deficit reduction would occur.
Another milestone is a shift in the way Monroe County would pay for Medicaid. Since 2008, the county has used what's called a "Medicaid Swap," paying for Medicaid through sales taxes. Several lawmakers, including Brooks, have wanted to end that practice.
There's a partial cost takeover coming from the state, so Brooks says now is the time to go back to paying Medicaid costs the conventional way by using property tax money.
In the end, county spending goes up just six-tenths of a percent under Brooks' plan. She says it's another responsible sensible budget.
Legislature Democrats, meanwhile, are reserving their judgment.
"We've been able to reduce that structural deficit, so I really believe that speaks volumes about our ability to create efficiencies within county government, to streamline our services, and to actually reduce the impact of running county government on people in the community,” said Brooks, (R).
"Well, she gave a five-minute speech about a billion-dollar budget. Obviously the devil's in the details, and we'll spend the next few weeks poring through the budget to find out what's actually in there,” said Carrie Andrews, (D), Assistant Legislature Minority Leader.
Twenty county jobs would be cut; 18 of those are currently vacant positions. There are two layoffs included in the plan. There are also some across-the-board cuts to county agencies.
Brooks says the only fee increase in her budget is a one dollar hike in the ticket price at Seneca Park Zoo.