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The Telegram
  • Low turnout for hearing on Herkimer Co. budget

  • Only one member of the public spoke during Wednesday night’s hearing on the tentative 2013 Herkimer County budget, and he thanked legislators for keeping taxes down.

    “This tentative budget appears to hold the line on property taxes and spending, which is certainly welcome news to the taxpayers of this county,” said Carl Streeter, of Ilion.

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  • Only one member of the public spoke during Wednesday night’s hearing on the tentative 2013 Herkimer County budget, and he thanked legislators for keeping taxes down.
    “This tentative budget appears to hold the line on property taxes and spending, which is certainly welcome news to the taxpayers of this county,” said Carl Streeter, of Ilion.
    Streeter also thanked legislators for using about $1.3 million of general fund balance and about $1 million of highway fund balance to further lessen the burden placed on county residents.
    The tentative budget requests an appropriation of $96,442,668, which represents an increase of $1,197,878 from the 2012 budgeted appropriations. This, according to county Budget Officer and Purchasing Agent Bernard Decker, represents an overall 1.26 percent increase in appropriations.
    Large increases included in the budget that will be voted on next week are employee retirement, $171,553; safety net, $75,000; correctional facility boarding, $200,000; and payroll, $246,743.
    Decker said application of the tax cap formula for Herkimer County for 2013 would allow a tax increase of as much as 2.4 percent plus unused cap increase available to carryover from 2012. However, no carryover was used. The tentative budget presents a tax levy increase of 0.9 percent of the basic county tax levy, said Decker. He added the fund balance increase is needed partly because funding for County Manor Adult Home is included for the full year, though it could be sold in 2013.
    “Given the economic turmoil the state and the country are facing, this is a realistic budget that limits spending and keeps taxes down,” said legislature Chairman Vincent Bono, R - Schuyler. “There was no shortage of challenges that had to be overcome, but I would put this budget up against the budgets of any other county in the state. This budget is conservative, prudent and pragmatic.”
    The tentative budget includes the layoff of two employees from the county Assessor’s Office which is anticipated to result in a savings of $50,000 in 2013 and nearly $85,000 in 2014.
    The budget also includes the elimination of two senior nurse positions in the Public Health Department, as well an increase in the amount of funding for the county’s Meals on Wheels program.
    The budget does not include raises for legislators, but non-bargaining and union employees will see a two percent increase. This, said Legislator Robert Hyde, R - Mohawk, is welcome news.
    “Some of these part-time employees have gone many years without receiving a raise, and I am sure they will appreciate the added income in a down economy,” he said. “This county relies on its employees and it’s good to be able to provide them a with raise in recognition of the work they do.”
    The legislature is expected to vote on the tentative budget when they meet on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the legislature chambers of the county office building at 109 Mary St., Herkimer.

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