Sullivan County unveils its budget

Posted 11/30/22

MONTICELLO, NY — The recent past and the soon-to-be-future may look very different for Sullivan County’s economy. The local consequences of COVID-19 proved favorable to Sullivan County, …

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Sullivan County unveils its budget


MONTICELLO, NY — The recent past and the soon-to-be-future may look very different for Sullivan County’s economy. The local consequences of COVID-19 proved favorable to Sullivan County, reads the “Priorities and Issues” section of the county’s tentative 2023 budget. The county’s real estate market boomed. An influx of visitors boosted room tax revenues. Rising online sales benefited the county through its four-percent sales tax.

Sullivan County’s 2023 budget benefits from these factors. It also keeps an eye on the future for a potential inflation-fueled recession.

Historically, if the county saw recession coming, it would be nervous about maintaining services, county manager Josh Potosek told the River Reporter. That’s not the case with the county’s current financial position. The budget in its tentative form adds staff rather than lays them off, and invests in measures to help county residents with housing, transportation, education and more.  

A solid foundation

The financial health of Sullivan County has been decades in the making.

Potosek’s early tenure with the county was difficult, he said. The county’s fund balance (an indicator of its financial health) went as low as $1 million; this year it comes in at a little over $20 million.

The budget has earned the county manager’s office and the budget office the distinguished budget presentation award from the Government Finance Officers Association, an organization of 20,000-plus public finance officials. Sullivan County’s 2022 budget was the seventh in a row thus honored; judges deemed it a “solid budget presentation with excellent operational information.”

The county has a great (albeit small) budget staff, but it benefits also from the good work done by the rest of the county’s departments, according to Potosek.

County departments, as well as external agencies that receive county funding, submit their budget requests from July through September. The county manager, together with management and budget staff, review the requests made and meet with departments to discuss them.

That process results in the tentative budget. Legislators and the public have the chance to review it in November and December, before the legislature holds a meeting to consider its adoption on or before December 20.

Where’s the money going?

The 2023 budget proposes no tax increase, for the first time in years. It’s a mindful move protecting taxpayers from an uncertain national outlook, Potosek writes in the budget’s transmittal letter.

This year is the first time that sales taxes are projected to eclipse property taxes, said Potosek. The take in real property taxes is forecast to decline from $69 million in 2022 to $61 million in 2023. Non-property taxes (including sales tax) are forecast to jump from $57 million to $71 million over the same timeframe; sales tax makes up $66 million of that total, and room tax constitutes $3 million.

The largest chunk of the proposed budget goes to economic opportunity and development: $64 million. This category covers a wide swath of government services, including Medicaid, job training, industrial development and veteran services. Health takes up the next largest chunk of the budget at $48 million; $20 million of that funding goes to the Sullivan County Adult Care Center, balanced out by an equal amount of revenue.

The recommended appropriations for health and economic opportunity and development stayed roughly equal between 2022 and 2023. Transportation saw a 39.36 percent increase, from $28 million to $39 million; this category includes highway paving and maintenance, as well as public transportation initiatives like Move Sullivan.

Many of the county’s other budget categories increased by $1 to $3 million: general government services, education, public safety, culture and recreation and home and community services. The county’s general government services line (covering government expenses and centralized services) has seen a consistent five-year increase, going from $32 million in 2019 to $45 million in 2023.

The one area of county spending that is forecast to decrease is its spending on debt servicing—$12 million is allocated to debt service in the 2023 budget, down from a peak of $22 million in 2022 and under the 2019 level of $14 million.

Services and goals

What a strong financial foundation gets you is a spot where you can do things and expand services, said Potosek.

The tentative 2023 budget eliminates the county’s solid waste access fee, a fee that’s currently set at $50 per residential parcel and up to $750 per commercial parcel. It earmarks over $5 million toward a plan to address the county’s aging public buildings, as well as additional funding for smoothing out the workflow and improving the customer experience at the department of motor vehicles and the county clerk’s offices.

The public health department has a number of key initiatives and performance indicators aimed at keeping its employees. The department targets 75 percent employees satisfied and motivated, 75 percent feeling supported in their professional development, 66 percent employed at least 24 consecutive months and 90 days to fill positions.

The center for workforce development has a target of 18 job fairs held in 2023, one trade program launched by June and 30 youth served through a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act youth program.

While Sullivan County transferred the management of its adult care center (ACC) to management company Infinite Care, that arrangement is still reflected in the county’s books. The company has adopted a majority of revenue and expenses for the ACC; with all intergovernmental transfers and Infinite Care’s participation taken into account, the county will receive $238,000 from the facility in 2023, where it spent $3,370,217 in 2022 and $6,744,491 in 2021.

How to get involved

The tentative budget is available for public view at; members of the public without access to a computer can call the legislature office at 845/807-0435.

Public hearings on the budget will take place on December 6 at 5 p.m. and on December 8 at 11 a.m. in the hearing room of the government center, 100 North St., Monticello. Clerk of the legislature AnnMarie Martin is accepting written comment at or 100 North St., Monticello, NY 12701.

Sullivan County, budget


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