The tentative 2013 Saratoga County budget proposed this morning includes a 2.5 percent property tax increase, and makes plans to close a wing of the Maplewood Manor nursing home to save money.
The average countywide tax rate would rise from $2.23 to $2.29 per $1,000 assessed value, a figure county officials said falls within the state tax cap.
Law and Finance Committee Chairman Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton, said the tax rate is still the lowest county rates in the Capital Region, and among the lowest in the state.
Overall, the county's proposed spending totals $301 million, down about 1.6 percent from this year's budget. Some 95 positions are being cut, by eliminating vacant positions and due to pending retirements.
The Capital Region Scene has the proposed budget and the executive summary, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.
The budget takes the next steps in plans to sell the 277-bed Maplewood Manor, including forming a local development corporation to handle the sale. The LDC would borrow $6 million against the infirmary's equity during 2013, with that money used to help reduce the facility's deficit.
The closure of 40-bed wing at the infirmary would save the county $1.1 million, and allow elimination of 37.3 positions. County officials said layoffs will be minimal, and perhaps not needed at all.
The proposed budget also includes $4 million in revenue as an initial payment from sale of the unused county landfill in Northumberland. Officials are currently negotiating with three prospective buyers, and said the $4 million is simply a "placeholder" number pending negotiation of a final deal to sell or lease the landfill to a private buyer.
Overall, county officials said things are better than they were in 2011, when planning for the 2012 budget was chaotic after state legislators refused to sponsor a bill allowing the county to increase its sales tax. In the end, there was a 3.5 percent property tax increase, and the beginning of planning to dispose of the infirmary and the landfill.
"The 2012 budget implemented many tough decisions meant to begin the process of rebuilding Saratoga County's financial position," said County Administrator Spencer Hellwig. "The 2013 tentative budget continues that progress and takes the next steps forward on difficult issues like Maplewood Manor and the county landfill. Theses steps are necessary to solidify a foundation for the years to come."
The county Board of Supervisors will now hold workshops on the budget, and there will be a public hearing on Dec. 3 in the county boardrooms. Budget adoption is slated for Dec. 12.