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Property taxes drop again under 2008 budget

The Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday unanimously adopted a $133 million budget for 2008 that, for a second year in a row, features a decrease in property taxes.

The new rate is $9.82 per $1,000, a drop of 16 cents, from $9.98 in 2007. The 2006 rate was $10.25.

Two years ago, legislators set a goal of keeping the property tax under $10. They managed to meet that goal by using contingency funds -- $700,000 in 2007 and $2.5 million this year. The fund balance is now $7.6 million, said Jay A. Gsell, county manager and budget director.

In adopting the budget, the legislators approved $23 million as the total amount to be raised through property taxes. That's an increase of $236,000 from 2007.

The $6 million spending increase from the current year is tied to negotiated salaries, rising fuel costs and state mandated expenses.

The budget does not include a $15,000 payment sought by the city for the financially stricken Dwyer Stadium, which is owned by Batavia. City officials contend that many county residents use the all-purpose facility for high school and Genesee Community College sports. The county has yet to respond to the city's plea.

In other business, legislators:

* Approved 2008 equalization tables for the county's 13 towns and the city, an assessed valuation of $4.5 billion.

* Accepted $172,000 in state funds to continue the Genesee Justice Child Advocacy Center's program.

* Amended the Sheriff's Office budget, adding $140,000 to cover added expenses at the county jail, including overtime, medical costs and housing female inmates in the Orleans County Jail. Genesee lacks facilities for women prisoners. Federal and state inmate housing programs will cover the cost.

* Approved a state wireless 911 grant of $15,000 for work stations in the new sheriff's administration building, and an $11,000 state grant to encourage seat belt use.

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