County supervisors approve budget

W ashington County’s 2013 budget was approved by the county Board of Supervisors on Friday, but not without considerable debate.

The budget just snuck through, adopted by a 10-7 vote.

The $115 million spending plan calls for a 3.08 percent or $877,000 increase in the county’s $30 million tax levy.

The budget will comply with the 2 percent tax cap because the mandate allows counties to roll over a percentage of the previous year’s tax levy.

The most hotly debated budget items were pay raises for department heads and county lawyers and the amount of fund balance, or unused money with no specific designation, that was used to reduce the overall tax levy.

The county will pay just under $148,000 to adjust the pay of its administrators, a decision that is not sitting well with several supervisors and the public.

During a public hearing Friday several members of the public spoke out against the raises, questioning their timing.

“I don’t fell like there should be a raise in all these categories at this time,” opined Martin Hennessey, a Hebron resident.

Brian Campbell, the Hebron supervisor and county budget officer, argued that the raises are necessary because Washington County’s pay scales weren’t competitive with other counties and made it difficult to find qualified applicants to fill vacant positions. For instance, Warren County’s district attorney makes $30,000 more than her Washington County peer.

“If somebody in this county thinks they can make more money somewhere else, they should put their shoes on and go,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, who has repeatedly expressed his objections to the raises, calling them poorly timed.

“People are overburdened by taxes as it is, the wage increases are not necessary.”

He also questioned the fairness of targeted pay raises for administrators, which in some instances are greater than the 1.5 percent across the board raises given to union employees.

Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idelman countered by arguing the county’s department heads are grossly underpaid.

“We know what from experience what happens when we hire the wrong department head,” she said. “We always forget that our workers are taxpayers. They don’t take the money and run.”

 

Cost equation

Campbell said the raises will cost $.25 per $100 of tax money.

Several supervisors also questioned the amount of fund balance to be used. The budget calls for nearly $7.3 million to pay for expenses and buy down the tax levy. It’s projected that there will be just under $6 million left in the fund balance after next year. Treasurer Al Nolette has advised the county not to dip below a fund balance of $5 million.

Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown and Hampton Supervisor Dave O’Brien both questioned what would happen if the sale of Pleasant Valley and the Public Health Department fell through and the county is unable to unload its transfer stations.

“I’m optimistic the transition will happen but what happens if they don’t. I’m a realist but may be should we make adjustments,” O’Brien said.

Brown unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would have seen $500,000 taken from the county road maintenance fund to boost the fund balance.

He said if county’s privatization efforts proved successful, the money could be moved back to the road fund.

Cambell’s budget is contingent on the privatization of Pleasant Valley, the Public Health Department and the county-owned transfer stations.

Although the tax levy will increase by only 3.08 percent, the countywide tax rate will increase by more than 6 percent, from $5.81 per $1,000 of assessed value to $6.17.

The difference is due to the equalization rate. As a whole, property in the county is assessed at 75 percent of its actual value.

A complete copy of the county budget is available on its website, www.co.washington.ny.us.

 

How they voted

 

The Washington County Board of Supervisors approved its 2013 budget by a wide margin, 2,854 to 1,406. But individually, it was a lot closer, 10-7.

John Rymph (Easton): Yes

John LaPointe (Putnam): Yes

Brian Campbell (Hebron): Yes

Bob Henke (Argyle): Yes

William Watkins (Cambridge): No

Bob Banks (Dresden): Yes

Darlene Dumas (Fort Ann): Yes

Mitch Suprenant (Fort Edward): No

Matt Hicks (Granville): Yes

Sara Idelman (Greenwich): Yes

Dave O’Brien (Hampton): No

Dana Haff (Hartford): No

Alan Brown (Jackson): No

James Lindsay (Kingsbury): Yes

Seth Pitts (Salem): No

Robert Shay (White Creek): No

George Armstrong (Whitehall): Yes

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Sentinel in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Search for missing Granville man continues

Police agencies in both New York and Vermont have recently ramped up efforts in the search for Jonathan Schaff, a Granville man who went missing in January 2014. Their investigation includes scuba diving in local quarries and questioning more than 30 witnesses. Police are looking into all tips in an effort to solve the case that started nearly 3 years ago.

By Krystle S. Morey Vermont State Police have been busy questioning potential witnesses in a local missing person case. Jonathan […]

Local bus garages fare well in state inspection

Buses

By Dan King Local school districts are among the state’s best in keeping their buses up and running. The state […]

Whitehall graduates 46

DSC_0280

By Dan King “The easy part of our lives is over.” That was the message from Whitehall High School’s salutatorian […]

Fireworks for sale, for a good cause

DSC_0603

By Krystle S. Morey Granvillians can start summer off with a bang now that fireworks are for sale in the […]

Weekender – 06/24/16

Lakes Classifieds – 06/24/16

North Country Freepress – 06/24/16

Northshire Freepress – 06/24/16

Lakes Region Freepress – 06/24/16

88 to graduate Granville High School Friday

GranvilleCapNGown2016 cmyk

By Krystle S. Morey Eighty-eight “pretty remarkable” young men and women will walk across the stage tomorrow, ending their days […]

Classifieds 06/22/16

State: No audit slated despite village request

Napa Auto Parts Manager Ken Towne said he’s worried about the time it will take a fire department to respond if his store, located across the street from the shut-down Hook & Ladder Co., were to have a fire.

By Krystle S. Morey The state Comptroller’s Office said it will not perform an audit on the Granville Hook & […]