W ashington County Budget Officer Brian Campbell addressed a group of 17 residents during the annual presentation of the 2011 preliminary county budget in Whitehall on Friday, Nov. 5.
“It’s been quite a challenge and quite educational,” said Campbell, who is serving as the budget officer for the first time this year. “The biggest thing is that we are facing a 13-percent deficit in out fixed costs, and that is something that we really cannot do anything about.”
Campbell continued to discuss the matter of the future of the county’s five transfer stations, which he said had been the main topic of his previous meetings.
“Recycling has been the biggest thing we have talked about in all of these meetings,” said Campbell. “I have been drilled, grilled and everything in between on the matter.”
Attendees talked about a number of issues at the meeting.
“You wonder why your intake is low at the transfer stations and I think that a lot more people are now paying to have their garbage taken away,” said Rita Gordon.
“That is one of the things that we are concerned about,” said Campbell. “I personally think that stations will be back in because they have to have a good plan in place before we can get rid of what we have got.”
“I made the motion to close the transfer stations because I really wanted to get my counterparts to think about this more,” said Jim Lindsay, Kingsbury supervisor, who joined Campbell and Whitehall Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon at the meeting. “There are ways to keep these open and I think that there are ways that people should be able to go up there with or without tickets and be able to pay when they get there.”
“If you close the transfer stations and then privatization ends up costing more than getting the stickers, then you might as well raise our taxes,” said Carol Greenough.
Some questioned if the members of the Board of Supervisors ever talked to those “in the trenches” about finding ways to help the departments.
“I think that you need to come to the little people and ask them how they feel things can run better,” said Richard McCullen, a transfer station worker. “I asked you before to come and see how things are run and no one has ever come.”
“When I worked for the county, they never came to me and asked how we could save money,” said Lynn Enny, who previously was the director at the Huletts Landing county beach facility.
Others called for an end to annual increasing tax rates.
“Every year the taxes go up and every year I look at my Social Security check and it has not gone up,” said Marvin Brooks. “When the village came around and picked up our garbage, they came to us one day and said they were not doing it anymore. I said that was great because our taxes would go down, and they said that they would not.”
“Property taxes are out of hand,” said Bert Windle, head of the Homeowners Association of the Lake Community of Putnam. “We have told our supervisor (John LaPointe) that we will fight against him in every way that we can if he accepts a budget that has a property tax increase. We pay too much as it is now, and you cannot have anymore from us, as far as I am concerned.”
“We are really trying to get as close to zero percent as we can,” said Campbell at the end of the meeting. “But there is a danger in that as well due to impending cuts and increases from the state.”