FONDA - The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a 2013 budget that slightly lowers the tax levy and maintains county services.
The $92 million budget proposed in October would have increased the county property-tax levy by 2.98 percent, but supervisors ended up adopting a budget that cuts the levy by 0.39 percent. Tax rates, however, vary among the county's municipalities and will go up in some cases.
The board adopted late budget changes proposed by St. Johnsville Town Supervisor Dominick Stagliano to help accomplish the tax-levy cut. He proposed pay cuts for two Board of Elections clerks and the Stop DWI coordinator, a $650,000 increase in projected sales tax revenue, a $230,000 cut in unemployment insurance costs, a $101,000 cut from hospital and medical insurance costs, a roughly $200,000 increase in use of the county fund balance, the removal of an accountant position from the treasurer's office and other changes.
St. Johnsville Town Supervisor Dominick Stagliano speaks
during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors
meeting. The board adopted a 2013 budget.
The changes amounted to about $800,000 in savings and revenue.
The board left intact two positions in the Social Security office.
Stagliano said the previously proposed 2013 budget would have increased property taxes by 13 percent.
"Don't vote against the taxpayers," he said.
Amsterdam Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza didn't agree with the budget changes, saying they could leave the county in a dangerous situation.
DiMezza, Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark and Amsterdam 1st Ward Supervisor Vito "Butch" Greco voted against the amendment proposed by Stagliano.
The previous budget proposal sought to use $1.34 million from the county fund balance. The adopted budget uses around $1.86 million in appropriated fund balance.
The county will have $3.5 million to $4.5 million in its 2013 fund balance.
The 2013 tax levy - the amount of money raised in property taxes - will be $27.4 million. The 2012 levy is $27.5 million.
The levy is $929,000 under the state-imposed property-tax cap.
County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman questioned the use of more fund balance at this time, saying it is a gamble. He said if the economy gets into trouble, the county would be left with a large gap.
"Blowing it up like this might be a way to artificially take from the fund balance," he said.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton & Montgomery Counties, the county Office for the Aging and the Soil and Water Conservation District had their funding - which was cut or reduced in the original proposed budget for 2013 - reinstated in November. The board maintained the funding Tuesday in the adopted plan.
Some officials raised concerns at previous meetings the cuts would devastate county services.
Although the tax levy will go down in 2013, some tax rates in county municipalities will go up.
For example, the town of St. Johnsville's rate will increase by 13 percent and the town of Florida's rate will go up by 7 percent.