TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. —The Tompkins County Legislature is approaching its last two votes before approving its finalized 2024 budget of nearly $249.3 million.

Legislators have been meeting for weeks discussing the recommended budget County Administrator Lisa Holmes unveiled Sept. 19. The county’s final budget includes just under $4.8 million dollars in additional spending which county legislators approved through budget amendments. The county’s 2024 budget is over 10.3% larger than its 2023 budget of $223.4 million.  

The legislature’s Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on the county’s 2024 spending plan. Pending the committee’s approval, the full legislature could adopt the budget as soon as its Nov. 8 meeting. 

Close to a fifth of the county budget, or just over $53.4 million, is being paid for through the county’s tax levy. The tax levy, or the funds that are raised by the county through property taxes, increased by 2% over the previous year.

The 2024 tax rate is set at $5.32 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from the 2023 tax rate of $5.65. However, property owners in the county should expect a higher tax bill in 2024, with an 8.3 percent rise in the total taxable assessed value in the county. 

The median value home in Tompkins County, which is $249,000, should expect a $53 increase in their tax bills in 2024, for a total of about $1,325 in property taxes. 

Legislators dipped into the county’s fund balance in order to meet almost all of the nearly $4.8 million in additional spending they approved on top of Holmes’ recommended budget. 

The decision was made in the name of moderating tax increases for county residents, but it was criticized as an “unsustainable” approach by Legislator Deborah Dawson, who advocated for the tax levy to be increased by 2.64% to cover the additional spending at an Oct. 17 meeting of the legislature.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn