Tatko tells of issues with budget vote

I t wasn’t a threat; it was a promise.

Granville interim Supervisor Beverly Tatko voted “no” on the Washington County budget for 2011, but she had more reasons than a tax levy nearly 3 percent above what she said she would approve.

Tatko said during the meeting she did not believe the vote the supervisors planned to take was a legal one because they did not know exactly what they were voting for in terms of dollars and cents.

It was her understanding board members needed to know what budget they were casting a vote on to make the vote a legal one, Tatko said. Supervisors’ clerk Debbie Prehoda plugged changes into a computer as the board made changes, but Tatko said afterward she didn’t think Prehoda could have kept up with all of the changes that took place over the course of the final hour of a three-hour meeting.

The Granville Town Board recently had to hold a town budget meeting a second time when the public notice failed to list required information such as the salaries of town officials, she said.

Tatko said she’s a firm believer that lawyers need to review most things just to be sure those things are done in a procedurally correct manner. “You have to be very careful about doing things the right way and that’s the way it’s going to be at least for the rest of this year,” Tatko said. 

As a result of the experience with the repeated meeting, Tatko said, she didn’t think the vote taken Nov. 19 could count unless supervisors knew exactly what they were voting for.

“I would have voted ‘no’ on it for that reason alone. It wasn’t a legal vote on a budget as far as I’m concerned. Now, nothing may happen about that …,” Tatko said, shrugging her shoulders.

Tatko said she has been learning more about the county and the Board of Supervisors despite the time she’s been forced to miss due to illness, but nothing she has seen convinced her to move from her pledge to vote yes only on a zero percent tax levy budget. The county needs to look at ways to run better and more efficiently to find cost savings, she said.

 “If it’s not zero – it’s a no,” Tatko said. 

The budget that went up for a vote contained a 2.6 percent tax levy increase. The levy increase started the budget process at approximately 18 percent and had been reduced to 7 percent by Nov. 2.

During discussion of the budget Argyle’s Bob Henke railed against unfunded mandates and said until the board makes some move to deal with those it will always be working around “the same 10 percent of the budget.” Henke said unfunded mandates still take money out of taxpayers’ pockets and should be dealt with.

A proposed cut of $175,000 in funding to the adult home section of Pleasant Valley Infirmary was restored to the budget as a part of a number of changes that took place at the meeting prior to the vote.

Salem’s Seth Pitts said the board would not and could not eliminate that service without first having a plan for the people who were currently housed in the Argyle adult home.

Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff proposed an amendment to a resolution boosting transfer station tickets to $2 each, recommending the stickers move to $2.50.

This move, he said, would make Washington county equivalent with Warren County in its per-bag fee.

Haff said the “margin was too slim,” referring to the additional $50,000 the 25-cent increase in sticker costs was expected to raise versus the cost of funding the remainder of the operating year, now that the stations have been added back into the budget.

The remaining six months were expected to cost $42,000. The proposal was voted down by the board.

Sara Idleman of Greenwich voted against the amendment and said she thought the supervisors were doing too much during the session “that others are diligently working on.”

The next opportunity for the supervisors to vote on the budget comes Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. If the budget does not pass at that time the supervisors have the regular meeting in December, scheduled for Dec. 17; if not passed before Dec. 20 the current version of the budget automatically becomes the annual budget.

As for Supervisor-Elect Matt Hicks, Tatko said she has every confidence he will work hard for Granville. “Matt will do a great job because he’s smart, he’s a business man and he’s not afraid to speak up. Although he’s probably not as mouthy as I am,” Tatko quipped.

Box: the votes

8-8 split defeats budget

No

Gayle Hall – Fort Ann

Beverly Tatko – Granville

Dana Haff – Hartford

Alan Brown – Jackson

Jim Lindsay – Kingsbury

John LaPointe – Putnam

Seth Pitts – Salem

Robert Shay – White Creek

Absent

Donald Sady – Hampton

Yes

Bob Henke – Argyle

William “Beaver” Watkins – Cambridge

Robert Banks – Dresden

John Rymph – Easton

Mitch Suprenant – Fort Edward

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