Press-Republican

Local News

September 8, 2011

Franklin County budget ax falls hard

— Recommendations aimed at lowering hike in tax-levy for Franklin County

MALONE — Franklin County may eliminate much of its Tourism Office, slash in-home services to seniors and end underused public-transportation routes.

The 13 recommendations made by County Manager Thomas Leitz during a work session Wednesday would save around $1 million and take about 7 percent off a possible 30-percent-or-higher tax-levy increase in the 2012 budget.

TOURISM LOSSES

The $350,000 tourism budget would be cut to $100,000, leaving just enough to cover the cost of advertising and promotional materials matched by state funding.

The duties would go to Industrial Development Agency Executive Director John Tubbs and his assistant, Fawn Tatro, and would need IDA Board approval.

Tourism Director Neil Seymour is retiring Sept. 19, and IDA secretary Rose Hiscock is retiring at the end of the year.

The county learned it received $11,600 of the $40,000 grant it sought to study the feasibility of creating a planning entity.

If the terms allow, legislators want Tubbs to use the money to research planning, which might mean contracting with a grant writer or hiring an economic-development specialist at the IDA.

IN-HOME SERVICES

The Office for the Aging Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program provides non-medical services, such as light housekeeping and help with personal hygiene, to people 60 and older who don't qualify for Medicaid.

The program helps people retain independence and remain in their homes instead of going to nursing homes.

Leitz said the program's $102,160 budget would be cut in half in 2012.

Saranac Lake Democrat Timothy Burpoe was concerned that the move might hasten a person's need for nursing-home care and be more expensive in the end.

Other Office for the Aging cuts reduce contracted services to 2011 levels and require use of the same pre-cooked meals used the County Jail. Both measures would save almost $100,000.

SCHOOL DRUG AID

North Star Behavioral Services personnel visit local schools to talk about substance-abuse prevention. But the county could save $25,000 in Community Service funds by ending its support.

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