WGXC-90.7 FM

Columbia County to vote on budget tommorrow

Dec 07, 2010 12:24 pm
HUDSON - The recent weeks have all been about budgets, on all fronts. And just as the national news has been overwhelmed by congressional discussion of what NOT to cut, while the state struggles with plans for major job losses from the public sphere, regionally the big story has had to do with various counties' attempts to reach and hold zero levels for budget increases over the coming years.

Along these lines, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors is expected to okay its spending plan for the coming year at its regular monthly meeting tonight in Hudson, which follows a November public hearing where only one citizen came forth to question the ways in which the supervisors - up for re-election in the fall - have reached their current budget.

Originally planned to be 2.1 percent, the Register-Star reports, county controller Ron Caponera said the zero increase was the result of cuts that included a drop of $150,000 for county roads, $50,000 from Tourism department funds, $750 from Department of Social Service programs, and five percent pay and other departmental cuts avcross the board.In addition, the county is adding to a new state sales tax to bring in new revenue, and $250,000 was taken from the county road fund balance to reduce the tax levy.
The original budget slashed by Caponera, hired earlier this year in a split vote exacerbated by the controller's past record in the Town of Colonie and questions about the need for such a position, would have seen property taxes rise by about 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Where previously, the only complaint about the new budget was raised by a person in the county tourism industry, as reported by the Register Star, new complaints were brought up in today's Register Star from the county's business community, including the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. Although the county portion of the tax isn’t going to take effect until March 1, today's report runs, the state lifted its exemption on clothing and footwear under $110 Oct. 1 so all clothing and footwear purchased in New York is subject to a 4 percent state sales tax regardless of price... and business owners are worrying about the combined effect of a new 8 percent tax — 4 percent from the state and 4 percent from the county — on clothing and footwear come March. As well as the cash register problems involved in accomodating such a complicated new tax system.

With Ulster County also coming in at zero percent with its 2011 budget, as reported in Mid Hudson News Network today, and Greene County’s tax levy looking to increase 2.1 percent for 2011 tentative budget when voted on next Wednesday, December 15 -- based on a repeal of any raises for county employees -- some are starting to wonder whether the actual savings of a few dollars are worth the cuts in services, local pay, and future planning.