MAYVILLE - Health insurance for county emplo-yees has increased as much as 12 percent in County Executive Greg Edwards' 2013 budget proposal.
Chautauqua County legislators Monday began 2013 budget review sessions, dissecting line items in the county's Public Facilities and Public Safety committees.
The sessions started days after County Executive Greg Edwards released his tentative spending plan, which includes the sale of the County Home. The proposed sale of the 216-bed nursing facility, which Edwards said would bring in a $6.3 million profit, will likely play a large role in making up a $13 million budget gap next year.
Before lawmakers dug in Monday, Kitty Crow, county budget director, pointed out that ballooning health insurance costs will increase expenses for most departments in 2013. Crow said health insurance costs for county employees have risen by as much as 12 percent.
"In most departments you will see that as the primary reason for the increases," she said.
George Spanos, county public facilities director, spoke extensively during the first day of budget discussions - touching base on the county landfill, airports, parks, buildings and grounds and water and sewer departments.
Spanos said expenses by and large will remain in line with this year's budget, also noting that increases to employee benefits were out of his department's control.
"We have done everything we can to reduce our expenses," he said.
Legislator John Runkle, R-Stockton, questioned the overall lack of revenue generated by the County Landfill, expected to be $184,000 next year out of an $8 million budget. As an enterprise account, some surplus revenue generated by the landfill is placed in the county's fund balance.
Spanos said he expects $163,000 to go to the county's coffers next year from the landfill.
Runkle, meanwhile, hypothetically asked if a private owner could purchase the landfill and make more money than the landfill currently generates.
"How can we welcome productivity at the landfill?" he asked.
Spanos said to stay competitive with other waste facilities, including two in Erie, Pa., the County Landfill must keep its dumping rates low. For the landfill to be sold, he continued, it would need to be taken up by the legislature.
County capital projects in 2013 are estimated around $27.5 million and include county operations, roads and bridges and enterprise funds.
Two of the larger projects are for the county airport in Jamestown and buildings and grounds. Projects include $150,000 for a new roof for the Jamestown airport and $125,000 for a new carpet for the Hall R. Clothier building in Mayville.
Funding for road and bridge improvements, which the county executive reinstated in his spending plan, comes in around $5 million - with the county fronting $1 million for the projects and state and other funding sources paying the balance of the costs.
Meanwhile, Bob Stewart, R-Ellington, recommended funding $1.17 million for the replacement of aging vehicles in the county Department of Public Facilities. Many county trucks, Spanos said, are beginning to show their age.
"We're spending a lot of time repairing old vehicles," he said.
"We need to start replacing (vehicles) on a regular basis," added Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton. "We need to start looking to the future and make it a part of our regular budget process."
Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, suggested replacing a few vehicles at a time, which would limit the amount taken from the county fund balance and capital reserve fund. The committee eventually agreed, and voted to recommend using $700,000 of money left over from previous capital projects.
The legislature's Audit and Control Committee, which is involved with all budget reviews, will take up the recommendation Friday.
No other cost-cutting measures were brought up Monday.
"I was really, really looking to find some cuts," said David Himelein, R-Findley Lake and Public Facilities Committee chairman.