HONESDALE -- The Wayne County Commissioners have released the proposed 2022 General Fund and Debt Service Budget for public inspection. It includes a 4.8 percent tax increase. The balanced budget of $37,484,235 will be available for inspection in the Wayne County Commissioner’s Office during normal business hours and online. The commissioners intend to formally adopt the budget on December 30, 2021.
The millage rate, if the budget is adopted without change, will rise .24 mills to 5.23 mills for 2022. The increase equates to $24 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. County income sources are derived from real estate taxes, user fees, costs and fines as well as state and federal funds.
Wayne County has seen upticks in need for emergency housing, drug and alcohol services, children and youth services and behavioral health services. On top of this, rising wages, utility, gas, health care, vehicle and materials costs have contributed to this proposed tax increase. Cyber-security and information technology-related upgrades also factored in to increased expenditures but they are necessary improvements and investments.
“The goal every year is to balance mandated services, with flat funding from the state. This year that’s coupled with also trying to compete with the private sector for employees and ever-rising salaries and health care costs. I believe this budget takes everything into consideration and balances needed increases and spending while also making cuts where possible,” said Commissioner Brian Smith.
“The supply-chain crisis and skyrocketing inflation have created a very difficult economic environment,” said County Commissioner Joseph Adams.
“To only increase taxes at a rate that’s lower than the consumer price index indicates that the county’s fiscal management policies have been successful,” Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer noted.
Commissioners noted millions of dollars in Federal CARES Act funds were used to offset many of the expenditures necessitated by COVID during the pandemic, including purchasing PPE, upgrades to technology to limit foot traffic in some county offices and to offer temporary hazard pay to most employees thus far. In addition, American Recovery Program funds will be used in 2022. Without these federal funds costs to county taxpayers would have been much higher.
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