ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – COVID-19 continues to take a toll on public health and the economy and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello gave an about the status of this year’s budget Thursday.
Factoring in lost revenue from sales tax, hotel and motel tax, fees, and a potential loss in state aid, the county projects it could be short anywhere from $68 to $122 million in total.
Before the pandemic started, Monroe County was off to a sound fiscal year, according to the county executive.
“Without COVID-19 we were on track to expect a budget surplus in the neighborhood of around $3.9 to $11.7 million ,” Bello said. “We were actually starting the year, in the first quarter very strong. As we know, we’re not operating in a pre-COVID world anymore.”
The county executive says the county is projecting a loss of $35 to $60 million sales tax revenue due to the pandemic.
Bello says the county will rely on federal funding to recover from this crisis financially.
“Part of our planning is going to be around how best to use the CARES funding that came from the federal government, and Monroe County received approximately $129 million, and with that money came guidance from the treasury with how we can and can’t use it.”
The county executive says one way to help the fiscal issues is to invest the federal funding locally.
“One of the things that we’re trying to balance is how do we add people, but local people, and it would be our understanding that those additional expenses are directly related to COVID, would be one of the expenses that fall under the CARES Act,” Bello said.
The county executive says raising taxes isn’t a feasible solution to balancing the budget.
“You can’t tax your way out of a $100 million problem, that’s why additional support from the federal government is necessary,” Bello said.
Some of the federal funding will go to hazard play for county workers on the front lines of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the Monroe County Legislature voted unanimously to approve a grant from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and hazard pay for some 2,400 county employees dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
In a statement Wednesday, Bello said he is “grateful” for federal funding to provide hazard. “I’m grateful that the Federal Government has provided the funding and guidance necessary, and for the partnership of our county legislators, to allow us to recognize the greater risks they face while continuing to serve our community.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we update this developing story.