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Schenectady County approves budget

County Legislature Republicans also introduced amendments to the budget, which would have eliminated an increase. The amendments included hiring and salary freezes for 2008, a reduction of the county fleet and cell phone usage, and performance audits to the sheriff's department and social services department.

Ultimately the minority's amendments were voted down, by a margin of 5-to-9 with Democrat Anthony Jasenski breaking from his caucus.

Majority members said the amendments presented by the minority were good ideas, but included spending money with no guarantees of saving money.

"These are good ideas, but the savings are speculative, and it makes me nervous," Legislator Michael Eidens, D-Niskayuna said. "Some of these might be worth implementing, but they seem like a wish list to me."

The majority's amendments were passed with only Legislator Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, dissenting. He said more could have been done to cut the budget and provide no increase to the county taxpayers.

Minority members, all of whom voted against the budget, said they were worried about the financial position the county would be in next year.

Legislator Carolina Lazzari, R-Rotterdam, who is running for re-election in District 4, said majority's amendments don't go far enough.

"I think we are going to be in a sorry state next year," she said. "I hope we can have a preliminary budget meeting in July, or else this time next year will be much worse."

Majority members said the difficult budget year could be a blessing in disguise because it forced lawmakers to take a look at the structure of county government.

"We have made permanent cuts," Legislator Karen Johnson, D-Schenectady said. "We have fewer employees and what we are trying to do is be more responsible with our money."

Chairwoman Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna said, "We have restructured the way the county does business, which will produce cost savings in the future."

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