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December 5, 2013

Essex County defeats 5-year budget plan

Turns down tax-levy increase for next year at 15 percent

ELIZABETHTOWN — What was supposed to be a final Essex County budget workshop Wednesday didn’t even establish acceptance of the five-year plan to stabilize county finances.

Another special meeting of Essex County lawmakers will be needed to amend and pass the proposed 2014 county budget.

The plan devised by County Manager Daniel Palmer sets the tax levy increase for next year at 15 percent, pending any amendments, but it was defeated by weighted vote, 1,393 yes to 1,528 no.

The actual number of no votes was only 963, but absent members’ votes are counted toward the no column.

Voting against it because they favored a smaller increase or use of an alternate plan that would deliver 9 percent annual tax-levy hikes for five years, were Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay), Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), Michael Marnell (R-Schroon), Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) and Randy Preston (I-Wilmington).

“Unfortunately, this is not going to be a popular move,” Supervisor Charles Whitson Jr. (R-St. Armand) said. “We have to bite the bullet.”

DEC. 20 DEADLINE

Sixteen members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors arrived at the Old County Courthouse prepared for a long final budget session Wednesday morning.

Supervisors Sharon Boisen (I-Essex) and Roby Politi (R-North Elba) could not make the special meeting.

“We’ll be here all day if need be,” Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said.

“If we don’t pass the budget today (Wednesday), we’ll schedule a special meeting to award the radio contract and pass the budget.”

The budget wasn’t OK’d, however, so Douglas set the next budget session for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17.

He said Dec. 20 is the deadline for passing a county budget.

The radio contract Douglas spoke of awaits a response from Motorola Solutions on whether that company will honor the service warranty on 400 radios purchased for emergency vehicles if a non-Motorola dealer installs the equipment.

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