The 2013 COUNTY BUDGET
Faced with a $40 million dollar budget deficit, a budget survey was conducted mid-last year asking county residents about their priorities for the 2013 budget and what type of tax increases could be accepted. The survey exhibited the need for services delivered and the majority said they could tolerate a tax increase as high as 7%.
Today, the 2013 budget includes closing the Department of Social Services one day a week to allow workers to catch up on paperwork; capping the amount of sales tax that our town, cities and villages receive; and imposing a one-half (1/2) of 1% mortgage recording tax for 2 years instead of 4 years, as originally requested. I voted against all 3 initiatives.
Acquiring new cases four days a week will hurt the most vulnerable and an increase in the recording mortgage tax will only hurt the middle class and working class looking to purchase a home or refinance their home. It is also premature for the County Executive to include this as revenue in a budget, especially when it has many stages to go through before it can be implemented. It is also disconcerting for the County Legislature to go along without questioning where the additional monies would come from should the mortgage recording tax increase not pass in Albany when the Governor clearly stated he would not increase taxes of any kind.
The sales tax cap is simply doing what we complain Albany does to the County – passing costs down to lower entities, and then bragging about holding down taxes. Taking back Elections costs that never should have been on the Town & Cities is only a token. In fact, the Village never had election charges so they are losing the full amount of the sales tax. It also means more reduced services and an increase in property taxes at the local level. The County can much better absorb tax increases than those Towns, Villages and individual Cities.
Looking to the future beyond 2012, this budget is setting in place the ability or the direction of contracting out for roads and bridge work to private contractors, costing the county more money in the long run.