ELIZABETHTOWN All 18 supervisors were present for Tuesday’s much-heralded final budget session, which reduced the Essex County tax levy from 15 to 13.3 percent.
The new budget will add 39 cents per $1,000 of assessment to the county property-tax rate.
The tax rate will be $2.82, up from $2.44 this year. The tentative budget had a $2.87 tax rate and a 15 percent increase in the levy, which is the amount to be raised by taxes.
It took three and a half hours of wrangling by the County Board of Supervisors to scrape a little more than $300,000 from the proposed 2014 budget that County Manager Daniel Palmer had submitted in November.
The board then passed a budget with a tax levy of $18.65 million.
It passed by weighted vote: 1,758 to 1,163.
8 VOTED 'NO'
Voting "no" on the budget were Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay), Supervisors Sharon Boisen (I-Essex), William Ferebee (R-Keene), Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva), Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), Michael Marnell (R-Schroon), Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) and Randy Preston (I-Wilmington).
Supervisors removed purchase of a road grader from the spending plan to save $230,000; decided to have one snowplow operator instead of two in some cases to save $16,000; and added higher wages, $10,000, for the clerk of the board’s office.
The board also reduced contract agencies to current levels but then put the increase back for one of them, Essex County Soil and Water Service. The resulting reductions save $63,356.
Most employees are getting 1 percent raises in the new budget.
At the end, Douglas said he appreciated all the effort that went into the process to create it.
“We worked together to try to solve our differences. We’re all in this situation to represent our people.”
He said the County Manager’s Office staff will have to work over the weekend to prepare the new spending plan.