Monroe County’s council revisits spending decisions, OKs hires despite freeze, gets news of extra income tax revenue

The Monroe County council’s nearly four-hour meeting on Tuesday was capped off with a presentation from councilor Geoff McKim, who relayed some good financial news.

Cropped county council meeting Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 9.13.24 PM
Screen grab of the May 12, 2020 meeting of Monroe County’s council, conducted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

Monroe County will receive about $1.4 million in supplemental local income tax (LIT) revenue for its general fund this year. That will be added to the roughly $13.3 million of LIT revenue in this year’s general fund budget.

McKim made a recommendation for use of the $1.4 million, based on the uncertain impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on future county revenues. The county should put the extra LIT revenue in the county’s rainy day fund, McKim said.

No vote was taken on the question. It’ll likely come up at the council’s work session on May 26.

McKim’s recommendation was consistent with the cautious approach the county council took on Tuesday to some spending decisions it had put off from its mid-April meeting.

Some of the decisions, like spending money on refurbishment of the Alexander Memorial, were put off again, while others, like the overhaul of telecom infrastructure in the Nat U. Hill meeting room, got approved.

Also winning approval were some requests from department heads to fill a few positions, despite the hiring freeze that the council imposed at the end of April. Continue reading “Monroe County’s council revisits spending decisions, OKs hires despite freeze, gets news of extra income tax revenue”

Monroe County’s councilors want to know: How do propane, parking decks, PCBs, a pillar and polling equipment add up to $5.17 million?

A presentation from Monroe County’s three commissioners to the seven-member county council on Tuesday night listed out a dozen and a half projects they want to pay for with one-year general obligation (GO) bonds. The not-to-exceed amount that the commissioners want the county council to authorize is $5.17 million.

Adding up the cost of the individual projects might come to that total, but councilors weren’t provided that information by commissioners on Tuesday. And they expressed their wish to have that information before voting on the bonds.

The list of items includes: propane conversions for vehicles in the county fleet; sealing of a parking garage top deck; purchase of some land that was declared a Superfund site by the EPA in the 1980s; refurbishment of the Alexander Memorial; voting equipment that will be deployed in the 2020 spring primaries; and a raft of other items.

One way to arrive at the $5.17 million figure is to check the statutory limit for the maximum allowable bond issuance, above which the proposal becomes what the state legislature calls a “controlled project.” This year that limit matches the amount the commissioners want the county to bond for: $5.17 million—any higher and the bond issuance would be subject to remonstrance and potential referendum.

The GO bonds were just up for a first reading Tuesday night. The vote will come at the county council’s next regular meeting, which is set for Oct. 8. That gives the councilors some time get the kind of cost details they are looking for.

During the meeting, the council’s president, Shelli Yoder, put together an ad hoc committee to look at paying cash for a few items instead of bonding for them.

Marty Hawk summed up her lack up of support for the bond by pointing to the amount, which is more than twice as much as the amount for which the county has bonded in past years: “I just think it’s over the top.”

Besides the ad hoc committee, another outcome of the back-and-forth between the council and commissioners was scheduling a special work session, before the Sept. 24 session already on the council’s schedule, for the 10 elected officials to talk about the projects on the list.

Continue reading “Monroe County’s councilors want to know: How do propane, parking decks, PCBs, a pillar and polling equipment add up to $5.17 million?”