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County Officials Watch For State Budget Changes

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – Oswego County municipal leaders are keeping their eyes on the state today, watching for potential changes to the state budget and the affects those changes could have on the county’s bottom line for 2009.

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According to County Administrator Phil Church, the current budget deficit at the state level is making it difficult for counties to seal their own spending plans with confidence.

“The state’s current budget crisis is projected to last four years,” Church said. “Every budget that we adopt at the county for the next four years has to be very flexible.”

Governor David Paterson issued a statement Monday, focusing on the efforts that will take place in Albany today.

Last week, Paterson submitted a proposal for budget reductions totaling $2 billion. The legislation was not filed, he said, in an effort to keep the proposals open for negotiations. The effort to close a $1.5 billion deficit in the current year budget, Paterson said, will “require sacrifice, compromise and leadership.”

“I alone cannot address this mounting deficit,” Paterson said. “It is incumbent upon the members of the Senate and Assembly to join me at the table and work toward a solution that strengthens our State and serves the people we represent.”

Paterson said inaction today would impede the state’s ability to produce a fair and balanced budget next year.

“These difficult decisions cannot be put off any longer,” the governor said. “If my colleagues disagree with elements of the budget reduction plan I have submitted, I ask them to respond by offering their own solutions.”

“I hope we will convene (today) with a three-way agreement that puts the fiscal health and viability of the State above all else.”

Church said that the changes proposed last week would have a “minimal impact” on the county’s finances. The proposed changes did not come with major cost shifts to the county level, he noted.

Church pointed out that the New York State Association of Counties continues to hammer the message to the state that “cost shifting isn’t cost cutting.”

“In this round of cuts, there was no shift,” Church noted. “Two billion in cuts were proposed (Wednesday). The state has $10 billion more to go.”

He encouraged Legislators to communicate with the area’s state representatives.

“We understand the need for cuts,” Church said. “But they need to make sure they are not shifting (the costs) because that doesn’t help taxpayers.”

The Oswego County Legislature sealed a date for a public hearing on its proposed spending plan Thursday. Church says there will be no changes to the county’s spending plan that worked its way through the committee process this month before that hearing.

The public hearing will be held Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. After the public comments on the spending plan, Church said legislators will work through any proposed changes.

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One thought on “County Officials Watch For State Budget Changes

  1. The message to residents of Oswego County is once again to just be quiet and pay more taxes. Oswego County legislators need to cut the proposed 2009 budget whether there is a transfer of costs from the state or not. Any transfer of costs from the state is a further message to counties and school districts that they need to trim expenses also. It lets the local counties determine where to do so. Whether the cuts are at the state or local level … it is still our tax dollars that are being spent, not a handout from some anonymous bottomless money pit.

    For Oswego County to propose a 4% increase to the 2009 budget from $175 million to $182 million is irresponsible. This while the rest of the country, NY state, and individuals are losing jobs, benefits, and retirement savings and having to cut their spending. Same with the ever increasing school district budgets in the county… also irresponsible. Cudos to those who voted down the Boces and Hannibal capital plans. Those are taxes we won’t have to pay. The money is not free from the state.

    Local government and schools continue to do business as usual because they can. While the county is holding the “tax rate” the same, everyone in the county had their home value re-assessed higher by about 8% this year. Rate X assessed home value = Tax Bill. This means another county TAX INCREASE on top of the school tax increase! The additional cost merely gets passed on to local taxpayers who have no voice. Now that houses aren’t selling so well and prices are dropping I wonder if values will be re-assessed down in 2009? Then what will the taxing bodies do? I am not holding my breath waiting for a decrease.

    The majority of state, local, and school budgets go to salaries, health care, and retirement benefits. Everyone agrees budget cuts are needed as long as its “NOT ME”. Other than Gov. David Paterson I don’t see any elected government official or school board stand up and say we need to cut expenses… might not get re-elected if they do. Politics as usual in NY. As has been said many times… Will the last one to leave NY turn out the lights!

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