Friday, September 3, 2010

County Budget

A bunch of folks attended last night's presentation on the county budget at Dryden's Community Center Cafe. The presentation was coherent, thorough, and very depressing. Although county taxes are a drop in the bucket when it comes to our total package of property taxes, they are symptomatic of the whole--no state support + runaway state mandates = disaster. The major budget drivers are pension costs, health benefits (somewhat alleviated by the county's joining of a municipal consortium), fringe benefits, temporary assistance (welfare, aid to dependent children, etc.), and Medicaid. Pension rates alone are projected to leap from 11.5 percent of payroll in 2010 to 16.1 percent in 2011.

I was surprised to see exactly what are considered discretionary programs (and therefore those that are most likely to be cut, although they make up just a small portion of the pie): emergency response, road patrol, facilities and road maintenance, public library, mental health, youth services, IT, office for the aging, and agencies. This doesn't bode well.

There was a small crowd there to advocate for a couple of youth services, particularly one that delivers services to the trailer parks of Dryden. There was a small "no new taxes" crowd, which included the guy who is running against Barbara Lifton for State Assembly. The rest of us just felt generally defeated and glad we weren't on the budget committee.

A rollover of services would raise the levy more than 10 percent, to $6.70 per $1000 assessed value. (For perspective, our school rate is somewhat over $20/$1000, depending where you live.) The budget the county administrator will present is one that raises the levy 5 percent. No doubt that will not stand.

LATER: Simon has additional details.

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