FONDA?- Members of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors this week have been discussing a budget-cutting plan put forth by County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman that would trim more than $3 million and 30 jobs from the 2013 budget.
These cuts, while preliminary, include the removal of five sheriff's deputies, one corrections officer, nine separate positions from the Department of Social Services, and other assorted cuts across the county's government departments, totaling to $3.07 million.
These cuts would keep the budget underneath the 2 percent tax cap established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the state and would use none of the $5 million in funds in the county fund balance.
However, Board of Supervisors Chairman Shayne T. Walters said those cuts, even if approved, would not be enough. He said the New York State Comptroller's Office sent the county a message, telling supervisors it must increase retirement payments by 10 percent over last year. Walters said all of the retirement funds would be taken right out of the tax-levy, which would already push the county over the 2 percent tax cap. The county would need another $400,000 on top of the other cuts to make the payments and stay under the cap.
Walters said the only supervisor who was present at the meeting that was willing to take the cuts as they were presented was Amsterdam 1st Ward Supervisor Vito "Butch" Greco.
Walters expressed his surprise at this, saying that he had previously never heard him say that. Walters said Greco had defended the Office for the Aging, which is under the chopping block, numerous times. Walters also said two other supervisors called for no use of fund balance.
"We're going to have to look at other options," Walters said.
Greco could not be reached for comment.
Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark said the supervisors did not come to a clear consensus at their meeting Tuesday.
"We're still pretty much all over the place," Stark said.
Stark said he felt many of the services that would be cut are needed and this suggestion would eliminate jobs from the county payroll. However, he said, he hopes "calmer heads prevail."
Stark also said a 15 percent tax increase would be needed to keep the current budget going, and there was very little left to trim from the budget.
He also said county taxes have been lowered every year for the last four years. If a 15 percent tax increase were to occur, it would bring the tax level back to its level of five years ago.
"Everything is so preliminary right now, I don't think any supervisors are saying, 'Let's eliminate'," Stark said.
While fund balance money is available, Stark and Walters said some members are opposed to drawing from it.