Cuts in personnel and services are what is needed just to keep the Washington County budget going up at a reasonable rate, Granville Town Board members heard Thursday night.
Following an entire day spent in a meeting at the municipal center in Fort Edward as a part of the county’s finance committee, Supervisor Rodger Hurley read a statement explaining the bleak situation facing the county in planning for 2011.
Hurley said when it comes to managing the county’s budget, the two remaining areas under the county’s control are personnel and services.
Hurley said the discussion had been “vigorous” among committee members during the more than five-hour meeting.
“There are several aspects of that discussion that I would like to share with the people of Granville. I’m determined that we should have a fully public discussion of the status of county finances and make decisions as soon as possible to gain better control over the budget for this year and next,” he said.
Hurley praised the early efforts of new budget officer Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell, but added that new and unpleasant actions must be taken to keep the county from financial difficulty that would result in tax increases.
“But these, as we all know, are difficult times and additional cuts in expenditures for this budget year are required,” he said.
Citing cuts already made from road maintenance to reducing department budgets and fund balance monies already used to keep taxes down, Hurley said more cuts must be made.
“I believe that we should pursue downsizing much more aggressively, getting more done with existing personnel and not replacing those who retire or leave for other reasons. But there are limits,” he said.
Downsizing and attrition are not magic bullets, he said, adding, “We will have to cut services and lay off personnel.”
Just to meet the tax increase contained in the 2010 budget, Hurley said, the county would need to carve millions from its budget, something he said would not be easy or pleasant.
“There are no options for the 2011 Washington County budget which will not generate severe negative human consequences and real pain,” Hurley said.
The supervisor said he was determined to build a county budget “which is as frugal as possible” by “making decisions now in 2010 which will impact property taxes in 2011 and with one or more years of hard economic times in front of us.”
“The consequences will be difficult and painful; not making these choices will be worse,” Hurley said.