MONTICELLO — At their first of two public hearings on the 2024 Tentative County Budget on Tuesday night, December 5, the Legislature discussed the biggest concerns for the budget, as well as …
MONTICELLO — At their first of two public hearings on the 2024 Tentative County Budget on Tuesday night, December 5, the Legislature discussed the biggest concerns for the budget, as well as any changes needed before it can be adopted.
The 2024 Budget is expected to be adopted next Thursday, December 14, during a special meeting of the full county Legislature board at 10:25 a.m. There was another public hearing held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 7 for the purpose of discussing the budget.
The biggest concern, brought up by Assistant County Manager Michelle Huck, was that the health insurance rates are increasing by a pretty large quantity.
Huck said that family coverage for The Excelsior Group went up 49.27 percent and that historically, a 7.5 percent increase would be what they budgeted. According to her, there is a $1.89 million difference that the legislature needs to make up in the budget created by that increase before next Thursday.
“There needs to be ways for us to make up the difference,” Huck said. “We should be having some kind of recurring revenue coming in to offset.”
The county’s Budget Director, Janet Young, went over the budget and what areas it looks to fund the most. One of the major areas to be funded is for road and bridge work throughout the county, as they are investing in 400 bridges and 385 miles of roads. A total of $23.6 million would go into working on roads and bridges, $9.75 million for roads, which includes $6 million for the county share and $14 million for bridges, including $4 million in county share.
There is also $2 million in the proposed budget for the county building master plan, which would be for engineering design to either repair or rebuild county buildings.
“We will decide what direction we are going to go, but at least we have some funding to get this whole project started,” said Young.
Another $2 million would go to the Housing Trust Fund in order to help address the housing crisis in the county.
Other major funding aspects of the budget that Young discussed included $470,000 going towards Move Sullivan to expand their bus routes to more outlying areas of the county. $200,000 would be going to the Remove Unsafe Structures (RUSt) Program in order to remove old buildings and $100,000 to the Sullivan County Land Bank to keep moving with their projects.
Notably, Chairman of the Legislature, Robert Doherty, has been absent at the last three of four Legislature meetings, the full board on Thursday, November 16, Wednesday, November 22, and the public hearing on Tuesday, December 5. Vice Chairman Michael Brooks has run the full board meetings in the chairman’s absence.
Doherty was present at the meeting on November 9, two days after Matt McPhillips defeated him at the polls for District 1.
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