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Steuben County grapples with state mandates in 2024 budget

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Steuben County officials are facing fiscal pressures as New York State-mandated programs are expected to increase local costs in the 2024 budget.

Despite these challenges, the county’s robust fund balance and strong sales tax revenues may provide some relief and potentially offer legislators more flexibility with the property tax levy. These discussions were at the forefront during two budget workshops conducted by the county Legislature’s Finance Committee.

County Manager and Budget Officer Jack Wheeler is set to present the outcomes of the county officials’ and Finance Committee’s efforts to the full Legislature at 11 am on November 14. This year, the county is grappling with an additional $1.4 million in expenses due to the Medicaid intercept by the state, which blocks counties from receiving federal funds assured by the Affordable Care Act. The state argues these funds are needed to support state finances, while critics insist it circumvents overdue Medicaid reforms. Additional financial strains include a rise in health insurance claims and increased costs for public defense.

The tentative 2024 budget will have to account for significant cost increases, including the Medicaid intercept and a $1.7 million hike in state retirement system contributions. However, Wheeler has pointed out that Steuben has avoided long-term debt for operational expenses, setting it apart from other municipalities. With the current budget at $227 million and a tax levy of $52.3 million, the county hopes to manage these expenses while maintaining its fiscal responsibility.

Following the budget presentation, a public hearing and vote on the 2024 budget are scheduled for November 27 at 11:30 a.m.