County discusses possible changes to budget cycle

(Photo Source: Unsplash).

A change in state agency fiscal year periods and measures proposed at the Cortland County Legislature level could help streamline the process of distributing youth recreation funds to municipalities.

During a presentation at the revamped County, City, Towns, Villages, Schools Advisory Board (CCTVS), ReBecca Smith — the county youth bureau director — said the bureau has received approximately $68,000 each year from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Part of that amount is disbursed to county municipalities via a voucher system, which requires entities to apply for the funds, Smith said.  

“I have had challenges every year with municipalities, getting them to apply for funding and there are many reasons why,” she said. Smith noted her salary as director also comes from the OCFS grant. “Recreational programs are supposed to start in January and we get allocations in late June, July, or August. It makes it very difficult for my board to come up with what they need to come up with.”

Smith said municipalities tend to finish up their applications and enter a contract phase by November. 

A resolution to accept the funding from OCFS as early as Friday has already made its way through committees and will be voted on by the county legislature on March 24, Smith said. She noted she has met with OCFS officials, who confirmed the approximately $68,000 will be coming to the bureau later this year.

“I am very confident we would be able to receive applications this month and get the contract process going this month,” she said. 

A change in OCFS’s fiscal calendar could also help municipalities within the county. 

“I was just told today OCFS may be changing its fiscal year to start on Oct. 1 and end next Sept. 30,” Smith said. “That way we get our allocation, do the contract by the end of September when most of our programs are done and then our county treasurer’s office can get the records early and close the books in a timely manner. I think it is going to fall right in line.”