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Local News

October 30, 2012

Essex County continues toward tax-cap override

ELIZABETHTOWN — With two lawmakers in opposition, Essex County is approaching an override of the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

A local law is required if the County Board of Supervisors wants to exceed the tax cap, which would be adjusted to 2.5 percent for Essex County.

Because of state mandates, the county would have to lay off more than 100 workers to meet that cap, County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

With a budget that’s up $13 million so far over last year, the tax cap would allow just a $383,600 tax-levy increase.

MORE CUTS

But Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) said he believes they should make deeper cuts.

“I think it’s premature. We should be looking at this budget without the need to override.”

The county must pass a local law and hold a public hearing if it wants to override the cap. The override hearing will tentatively be Monday, Nov. 26, just before the budget hearing at 7 p.m.

The county also overrode the cap for the current budget in passing a $15.2 million tax levy that carried a 10 percent tax hike on a spending plan totaling $102 million.

‘BOAT IS SINKING’

Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he wished Hatch were attending budget workshops so he could see the difficulties they face.

“The notices are out there for budget sessions with department heads,” Douglas said at a recent meeting. “I haven’t seen you at any one of them.”

Hatch said they laid people off last year, and he voted for it with the promise they’d make deep cuts this time.

“The argument was you would go though each department this year and see where you could cut back. I haven’t seen any of that.”

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said they reviewed department budgets closely and are continuing to make cuts.

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