Supervisors Reject Budget

T he Washington County Board of Supervisors will try again later this month to pass the 2011 county budget after its first attempt failed Nov. 19.

Led by Granville’s interim supervisor, Beverly Tatko, others, including Jim Lindsey from Kingsbury, combined to vote down a budget resolution that would have included a 2.6 percent tax levy increase.

Other dissenters included former budget officer Gayle Hall of Fort Ann, Dana Haff of Hartford, Jackson’s Alan Brown and Putnam’s John LaPointe.

Tatko maintained the stance she has since first sitting down in the supervisors’ chambers and voted against a budget calling for a tax increase.

“I voted no because I always said I was going to,” she said. Following her no vote the notion seemed to catch on and fully half of the board voted down the budget. “I was amazed,” Tatko said.

The county must have a budget in place by Dec. 20. Given the time remaining, Lindsay said he did not think any budget amendments needed to be rushed – so he voted no.

“Mainly because of some additions that were put on to the budget that I’d like to look at first, like probation, there’s time and I think we need to look at them,” Lindsay said.

The probation department recently learned it would be receiving additional state funds and asked to have a part-time secretary position cut from the budget and paid for with the additional funds.

“I’m close to being able to support this budget, but if we can save a little bit more I think we should,” Lindsay said. The supervisor for the largest town in the county said unlike Tatko he did not have to have a zero percent tax levy increase to approve the budget for 2011.

“I’d love to have zero but I don’t know if we can get to it; we still have services we have to provide,” he said.

Budget officer Brian Campbell said he thought the hectic session before the vote led to the resolution’s defeat. Campbell voted in favor of his budget.

Several budget amendment resolutions were themselves amended during the session and some of them were, in turn, withdrawn, leading to confusion and a number of instances when the supervisors were seeking assistance to know what they were about to vote on at that time.

“I think that just a couple of the resolutions that passed when it came to the full board, there were a couple of them (supervisors) that were unhappy with that, they said, ‘to heck with this let’s vote it down’ and they did,” Campbell said.

Otherwise, Campbell said he thinks he has a budget that will pass muster the next time around, particularly if the levy increase can be reduced any further.

“I think the numbers were right. I think we’re where we belong. I don’t know that we can afford to take out any more fund balance or things like that. I think we got there,” Campbell said.

Even with a 2.6 percent tax levy increase, Campbell said, it is important to keep in mind that mark was achieved by putting off paying debt and “kicking it down the road.”

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