‘Extremely rough year’ expected in Fulton County budget

Preliminary budget numbers show the need for a 43 percent tax levy increase for 2009 if significant

Preliminary budget numbers show the need for a 43 percent tax levy increase for 2009 if significant spending cuts aren’t made, Fulton County officials said Tuesday.

Fulton County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch said a review of spending proposals submitted by county department heads shows the county would need about a $30 million tax levy, up from $21 million this year, to fully fund budget requests.

Kuntzsch praised county department heads for filing responsible budget numbers, but said cuts in state aid and dramatic increases in fuel prices and other expenses brought about the big tax levy jump nonetheless. It will likely mean the county Board of Supervisors will consider painful cutbacks in spending to contain tax increases, Kuntzsch said. “It’s going to be an extremely rough year.”

Last year, the Board of Supervisors adopted a $96.85 million budget for 2008 that reduced the average county property tax rate by 0.41 percent, or 4 cents, from $9.80 per $1,000 assessed value to $9.76. Kuntzsch said all of the projects she’s seen so far indicate an average tax rate increase for 2009. “It looks like it will go up. I do believe the board [members] will do everything in their power to keep it down as low as they can. As far as they’re concerned they’d like to see it at zero,” she said.

Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Rooney, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said there will be cuts in spending and the levy increase will be smaller than 43 percent. “We’re going to have to look at everything. Everything that is optional will probably go. Close to everything,” Rooney said.

Rooney identified cost increases at the Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility as one of the drivers increasing the county budget. He said he thinks the county will be forced to cut spending on road maintenance for the towns, although he expects fierce opposition from town supervisors on those cuts. “There’s [$550,000], minimum, from roads that could come out. Will it come out? I can’t say,” Rooney said.

Kuntzsch said there are a large number of capital projects supervisors will have to consider as the budget process begins early next month.

Categories: Schenectady County

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