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Towns pay debt, but not without protest

But Cunningham said he does not see why the county should be able to charge the town for using space when the Town of Bethlehem does not charge the county for using municipal buildings for some elections.

The county frequently complains about the state's unfunded mandates, and this is exactly what they're doing to the towns, said Cunningham. "I have to turn around, in theory, and raise taxes to pay the county."

And doubling town residents' taxes to cover election costs is something the supervisors of all four municipalities said they are not ready to do. Instead, they paid the county, with the language "pay with protest" incorporated in their resolutions.

According to Guilderland Supervisor Ken Runion, to "pay with protest" means the town completes the payment, however, should any kind of legal action come against the county for the overcharging of municipalities, the municipality would potentially be able to recover the funds.

Battle said she did not have a specific response when asked about the pay with protest.

"As far as we're concerned, when we get the money, the bill is paid," Battle said. "Essentially the pay with protest is something that would have to be defined by the [municipalities]."

Runion said the Town of Guilderland did not plan to pursue legal action.

"I think that would be counter-productive because we would be spending taxpayer money [on legal action], and I think that the best thing is to kind of lobby with our county legislators," he said.

Supervisors in Bethlehem, Colonie or Rennselaerville said they also will not pursue legal action.

As opposed to the other supervisors, Rennselaerville Supervisor Jost Nickelsberg did not say that he believes the county necessarily overcharged Rennselaerville, but he does not know whether or not they did, and until he knows, he wanted to pay with protest. "We just want to be accurate," he said. "I just don't know, and until I know, I'm not satisfied."

Nickelsberg said Rennselaerville is in the process of completing an annual audit that is mandated by the county, and with its conclusion should determine whether Rennselaerville was charged an appropriate amount.

Cunningham said he hopes at some point all the municipalities that were forced to pay more than what they used will be able to get their money back.

"At some point, I hope to be able to recover the money," he said. "I object to paying it, and I just want to keep re-emphasizing to the town. I'm doing this but I don't agree with it.""

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