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 countyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s bottom line for 2009.
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.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s current budget crisis is projected to last four years,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Church said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEvery budget that we adopt at the county for the next four years has to be very flexible.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
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 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œrequire sacrifice, compromise and leadership.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI alone cannot address this mounting deficit,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Paterson said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt 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.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Paterson said inaction today would impede the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ability to produce a fair and balanced budget next year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThese difficult decisions cannot be put off any longer,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â the governor said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIf my colleagues disagree with elements of the budget reduction plan I have submitted, I ask them to respond by offering their own solutions.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI hope we will convene (today) with a three-way agreement that puts the fiscal health and viability of the State above all else.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Church said that the changes proposed last week would have a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œminimal impactÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â on the countyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢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 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œcost shifting isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t cost cutting.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn this round of cuts, there was no shift,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Church noted. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œTwo billion in cuts were proposed (Wednesday). The state has $10 billion more to go.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
He encouraged Legislators to communicate with the areaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s state representatives.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe understand the need for cuts,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Church said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut they need to make sure they are not shifting (the costs) because that doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t help taxpayers.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
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 countyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢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.