CHAUTAUQUA - A substantial increase in 2014 Chautauqua County taxes, possibly 20 percent, was forecast by two county legislators at the Town of Chautauqua Board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Fred Croscut (R-Sherman) and Vince Horrigan (R-Bemus Point) also gave updates on the possible sale of the Chautauqua County Home to a private firm.
Regarding the county budget, both men agreed -the recently approved 2013 plan postponed an inevitable and likely substantial tax increase to 2014.
Photo by Dave O’Connor
Taxes and the possible sale of the Chautauqua County Home were the subjects when Chautauqua County Legislator Fred Croscut (R-Sherman) reported to the Town of Chautauqua Board on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Shown are Croscut, standing, and, from left to right, Highway Superintendent Tim Wendell, Supervisor Don Emhardt and board member Tom Carlson.
"We're facing a major deficit next year," Croscut said.
"Our challenge is going to be next year with the county," Horrigan said.
"It just comes out that next (budget) year, we're facing a 20 percent tax increase," Croscut said.
He explained early estimates of a $13 to14 million revenue shortfall means sharp tax rate increases if nothing changes.
Croscut also told the board he believes there are not presently 17 votes, the necessary super majority of the legislature, to approve the sale of the county home. This concurs with a straw poll taken this summer by an area newspaper, which showed only 15 legislators in favor of the sale.
Horrigan did not offer an opinion on the vote outcome, but said the proposed divestiture, "is a north-south issue." Legislators in districts near the home oppose the sale as do labor unions,which represent employees.
Croscut has made clear he favors the sale, but doubts the county will save the $3 million annually that has been mentioned by some legislators who also want to sell the home.
Both men said they expect a definite purchase offer will be available in December and expect a "cash deal," according to Croscut. A purchase not on credit means the new operator could not easily walk away from the home, Croscut said.
The prospective buyer, Altitude Health Services, has offered a tour of its recently purchased nursing home in Lincoln, Neb., according to Croscut. Altitude claims the Lincoln facility, formerly public, has been improved since the sale and has cited local newspaper reports to that effect.
During the board's business session, board member Jim Kurtz said the ad-hoc committee on preliminary planning of a 34-acre town park will make a presentation at the town board's next meeting , Monday, Dec. 10. The park will be located behind the town's office building.
Mike Gleason may now do electrical inspections in the town after unanimous approval by the board.
The board approved a public hearing on a new local law to amend the town's zoning code by adding a definition of children's play houses. Play houses would be limited to no more than 120 square feet of floor space, walls no higher than six feet and only for use by children if the law is approved. The hearing is scheduled during the Dec. 10 board session.