The Monroe County Council found more than $200,000 in savings during the first week of its 2013 budget hearings – but that still leaves an estimated $1.1 million deficit for the coming year. Council President Geoff McKim says most of the found money comes from a larger-than-anticipated $160,000 of County Option Income Tax revenue.
“We’re not at a point yet where we can live with the budget but I think the end is in sight,” McKim says. “I think it’s possible to achieve a sustainable budget.”
Although projected revenues are up and the council has managed to cut some spending from departmental requests, it still faces several large departments that want to add new positions or want current positions paid for from the county’s general fund.
The prosecutor’s office is one such department. Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal approached the council last March with news that its pre-trial diversion budget would be in the red by the end of the summer. During that meeting, Gaal said his department was relying too heavily on those funds to sustain the program—a funding mechanism arranged by the council and the prosecutor’s office during the early 1990’s that he says never should have taken place. McKim says the prosecutor’s office is now requesting more than $290,000 in personnel and other expenses be transferred from pre-trial diversion into the general fund.
“That’s by far the biggest request for an increase that we’ve received,” McKim says.
The second round of budget hearings begins next Wednesday and the council will hear from the prosecutor’s office next Thursday.