Montgomery County budget to cut 20 jobs, services

Montgomery County would cut 20 full-time jobs and eliminate funding for the Office for Aging under a

Montgomery County would cut 20 full-time jobs and eliminate funding for the Office for Aging under a tentative budget proposal for 2012.

The $90.7 million spending plan relies on $27.4 million from property taxes and represents a 1.1 percent increase over this year’s $91.1 million budget, County Treasurer and Budget Officer Shawn Bowerman said Tuesday.

The tentative budget will now go to the county Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee for revisions, with a deadline for adoption of Dec. 20.

Other revenues are projected to fall by about $1.5 million — mostly due to reductions in federal and state aid — leaving $63.3 million in anticipated revenue to work with, Bowerman said. Taxes under the proposal would increase an average of 4.15 percent county wide, though each municipality’s change would be different due to equalization rates and assessments.

As proposed, the budget falls within the state’s 2 percent cap on property tax increases because the county was issued a tax base “growth factor” figure of 1.0131, which “gives us a little more leeway,” Bowerman said.

Money that comes to the county through payment in lieu of tax agreements is also excluded in the calculation of tax cap compliance, as is a portion of the county’s state retirement bill, he said.

To balance the budget, Bowerman is proposing to use $4.1 million of the fund balance, the unspent money left over from previous budgets, leaving about $4.5 million in reserves.

“Of course, the next couple of years are not going to be easy,” he said.

The tentative budget is the result of Bowerman’s need to stay within the state’s tax cap and the fact that none of the proposals from department heads suggested job cuts.

“No departments voluntarily gave up employees,” he said.

Bowerman sought input from county supervisors in the weeks leading up to his Oct. 1 tentative budget deadline as to whether they wanted the initial proposal to stay within the tax cap. And it does comply with that cap — but by only about $1,500.

“I made some cuts I didn’t want to make, I was forced to make,” he said.

Funding for outside agencies like the Office for Aging and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery Counties were cut altogether.

The tentative budget calls for cuts in the sheriff’s and public works departments as well as several other departments. Twenty full-time and 10 part-time positions would be axed as well — all changes Bowerman said are now in the hands of the county board. He expects supervisors will make changes.

“Now it’s a case where it’s up to the department heads and the board to work together to try to come up with a solution for the departments that did take a cut,” Bowerman said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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