The Monroe County Council is taking the first step in what will likely be a lengthy budget process. Council members reviewed budgets from all taxing entities at their meeting Tuesday. It’s a relatively new process and one that council members are still getting used to. President Geoff McKim says the reviews are non-binding, meaning suggestions made by council members are just that—suggestions. McKim says the idea is to ensure that no individual unit raises its taxes such much so that tax caps are met, which would affect the taxing ability of all units.
“We have to kind of tread a line between micromanaging these other unit’s budgets,” McKim said. “Each of them have their own boards some of which are elected, some are appointed, but they have their own board to manage the details of that unit’s budget. What we’re supposed to look at is the big picture. What is their impact on the overall tax levy the tax payers will pay?”
The budgets will now go on to the Department of Local Government Finance for further review, along with the council members’ recommendations to accept the budgets as they stand or to make changes. Some council members had hoped to abstain from reviewing budgets about which they’d been given little information, or which had not yet been fully vetted by the entities themselves, but doing so could likely put the county’s budget at risk. Failing to review a submission from a taxing unit could incur a severe penalty from the state, namely being forced to operate under the previous year’s budget.