ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County has seen revenue from sales tax collections in the second quarter fall by almost 3 percent from the same point last year, government officials said at a meeting last night.

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

The nearly 3 percent decline puts the county on pace for a “projected shortfall” of $500,000 to $800,000 for this year, according to a report given by County Administrator Joe Mareane.

That shortfall comes on top of several added expenses: 1) In the county’s 24/7 operations; 2) In the cost of boarding out inmates at the Tompkins County Jail; and 3) In a mandated PreK Special Education program.

“After recognizing surpluses expected in other parts of the budget, it appears the County could be on track to exceed the 2015 budget by $750,000 to $1 million this year unless mitigation measures are taken,” said a news release from Marcia Lynch, the county’s public information officer, about the “sobering” numbers.

Lynch’s news release noted that Administrator Mareane is taking the following actions to mitigate the unexpected budget shortfall:

1 — Limiting overtime to emergency needs and essential functions.

2 — Implementing a “flexible” hiring freeze and filling vacancies only through internal promotions and transfers. The hiring freeze will not apply to 24/7 operations.

3 — Requesting that all departments refrain from making non-essential discretionary purchases.

“Administrator Mareane said the restrictions will be relaxed if the situation improves as the year progresses,” the news release added.

Mareane recommended that the county maintain the same level of current services for now, but that the shortfall may limit what the county can approve in the 2016 budget.

[do_widget id= text-61 ]

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.