Bello budget would boost spending on projects, public safety, and more 

click to enlarge County Executive Adam Bello presented his 2023 budget proposal at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center on Chestnut Street Thursday, Oct. 10. - PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • County Executive Adam Bello presented his 2023 budget proposal at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center on Chestnut Street Thursday, Oct. 10.

County Executive Adam Bello on Thursday proposed a $1.34 billion budget for next year that would add deputies to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, further decentralize county social services, and boost funding for arts and cultural groups.

Bello’s plan calls for reducing the average tax rate to $7.56 per $1,000 assessed value, down 90 cents from the current year’s $8.46 rate. The plan anticipates a 1.2 percent increase in the tax levy, which would amount to $432.2 million, up from 425.3 million.

Despite the lower tax rates, homeowners who saw their property values rise will likely see their tax bills do the same.

“The pandemic reinforced my belief that we succeed when we all work together for a common good, and the common good demands we focus on public safety, we focus on public health and wellness, we focus on our economic and workforce development, and we invest in our infrastructure,” Bello said as he presented his budget to a friendly audience of county staff and community leaders gathered at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center on Chestnut Street.

The Legislature will review the proposal and is expected to vote on it before year’s end.

RELATED: Bello doubles down on funding the arts

The proposal is essentially an election year budget for Bello, whose first term expires at the end of 2023. The plan contains several initiatives that could make for talking points in his reelection campaign.

Bello led with what the budget includes for public safety. His plan would increase funding by about 9 percent to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The $14 million hike would be used to double the size of the office’s tactical unit, add 11 road patrol deputies, and expand the Roc Tac threat assessment program, Bello said.

“This is a difficult time, especially for our residents in the city of Rochester where they’re facing an unprecedented level of violent homicides,” Bello said.

When Bello ran for office, he spoke frequently about the need for Monroe County government to boost arts funding. In his 2022 budget, Bello included $500,000 for grants to mid-sized arts and cultural groups. This year, he is proposed to double that to $1 million.

Additionally, Bello’s budget includes funding for the first year of a three-year initiative to provide $60,000 annual grants to three local arts institutions: Garth Fagan Dance, Avenue Black Box Theatre, and the Hochstein School.

Bello’s budget proposal would also:

Increase the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office budget by 12.5 percent to add two full-time toxicologists. Low staffing levels have led to delays in certain tasks the office performs, including autopsies to determine cause of death.

Add $500,000 to the county crime lab budget to hire two forensics firearms investigators.

Provide $1.5 million from the county’s share of a state opioid lawsuit settlement to expand the Improving Addiction Coordinating Team and to continue the installation of naloxone boxes in public places.

Add $175,000 to expand the county’s TRYBE ecotherapy program for veterans who have PTSD.

Provide an additional $1.4 million for the county’s ongoing effort to decentralize its social services and locate them within trusted organizations in recipients’ neighborhoods.

Provide funding for construction of the Applied Technology Center at Monroe Community College’s Brighton campus. The center will focus on training students for high-demand skilled trades.

Boost reimbursement rates for Early Intervention Services by 5 percent, just as county budgets have done for the previous two years.

Provide funding to continue renovations at Frontier Field, soon to be called Innovative Field.

Create an Environmental Quality Office within the county’s Department of Environmental Services. The office would oversee and coordinate efforts to implement the county’s new Climate Action Plan. Some legislators and environmental advocates had pushed for a standalone office with a person dedicated solely to implementing and tracking the climate plan’s implementation.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's deputy editor. He can be reached at [email protected].

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