Press-Republican

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October 2, 2012

Essex County budget gap is $13 million

(Continued)

“We basically have sat down with department heads to go over their budgets. It was pretty much line by line. We have to meet with some other departments. Other than it’s not pretty, we have no predictions.”

Palmer said they’ll put the final numbers together soon to form a tentative budget, then go over it with the full Board of Supervisors.

UNION NEGOTIATIONS

The 2012 spending plan had a tax levy of $16.27 million and totaled $102.28 million. It raised the tax levy by about 10 percent, for a tax rate of $2.41 per $1,000 of assessment, 27 cents more than 2011. It also used $4 million from the county’s cumulative fund balance.

Palmer said the county has been using that fund balance, now down to $10 million, to reduce the tax levy in recent years.

“The county has attempted to hold the levy as low as it possibly could,” he said. “It created a gap that’s very difficult to cover. We’ve cut employees. The gap between the levy and what we actually needed was increasing every year.”

Health insurance and State Retirement System costs are increasing a lot, Palmer said.

“We are also in union negotiations. There’s a lot of unknowns out there.”

The county’s contract with the Civil Service Employees Union is up at the end of the year.

Palmer said they now spend $670,000 on contract agencies such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, down from $900,00 two years ago, so further cuts there may not work.

“You pare them down so much, they’re not going to be able to operate.”

Scozzafava said the public hearing on the budget will take place Monday, Nov. 26, during the Ways and Means session for that day, at a time to be determined later.

Email Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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