Montgomery County supervisors drain reserve fund, avoid budget cuts

Montgomery County property taxes will comply with the state’s new tax cap next year under a $91.9 mi

County property taxes will comply with the state’s new tax cap next year under a $91.9 million budget headed to a public hearing Tuesday.

County supervisors decided to pour about $5 million of reserve funds into the 2012 spending plan to stave off major cuts considered earlier in the process, Treasurer Shawn Bowerman said.

Bowerman’s tentative budget called for cutting several sheriff’s deputies and eliminating funding for outside agencies altogether.

But money for providers like Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Office for Aging was appropriated at 90 percent of the current levels and deputy jobs were preserved.

“Most every position that I did cut out was reinstated,” Bowerman said.

The amount of the budget to be collected through property taxes, $27.5 million, represents an increase of 3.92 percent. This complies with the state’s 2 percent tax cap because certain spending is exempt from the cap.

The spending plan will come with various tax rate changes, due to annual changes in the equalization rate of property assessments, ranging from a 2.7 percent decrease in the towns of Root and Charleston to a 5.7 percent increase in Minden.

The town of Mohawk recently went through a property revaluation and could see a 66 percent tax rate decrease if its equalization rate changes from 32 percent to 100 percent, as expected.

Bowerman said government fund balances, depending on who you ask, are suggested anywhere from between 5 and 15 percent, or two months of expenditures.

On a $90 million budget, that would equate to $4 million to $15 million.

“Neither one of them is going to happen. That makes next year Armageddon,” Bowerman said. “By the time we’re done with the end of the year, we’ll have maybe $2 million if we’re lucky.”

The county’s budget officer projects the 2013 budget development to require either a “pretty hefty” tax increase requiring an override of the state’s tax cap or “massive cuts in services.”

The public hearing on the budget will take place prior to a meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors at which they will also vote on borrowing $750,000 to fund a portion of the county emergency services radio system.

That borrowing is necessary to meet with a January 2013 government-mandated upgrade, according to Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith.

The county collected half of the cost of the $1.2 million microwave system by selling tower space to cellphone companies and other funding is provided by Homeland Security.

The microwave system serves as the backbone for communications for police, firefighters and EMTs.

The county still needs to upgrade radios to get the best use of the new gear, Smith said.

The borrowing will bring the county’s total debt to roughly $36.67 million. Bowerman said there are two loans set to be paid off in 2012 that will help ease the debt payments.

The public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday prior to a 7 p.m. meeting in County Board Chambers in Fonda.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply