Early budget shows 12.9 percent tax hike

In an effort to minimize the impact on taxpayers, non-mandated programs and expenditures received deep cuts, and strategies were implemented to control the cost of mandates that are within the county's control.

According to information provided by the Schenectady County Legislature, some of those cuts include the following:

Proposed reductions include the elimination of 50 county positions, mostly through attrition, for a savings of $2.7 million.

About 4.5 public health positions will be cut through the integration of clinic services and the prevention unit. Contract services will be reduced by making more functions internal, resulting in a total savings of $210,000.

Senior citizen meal sites will be consolidated, as well as other integration strategies, resulting in a total savings of $200,000.

Records management information will be consolidated into information technology. The projected savings is undefined.

About $170,000 will be saved through streamlining the Schenectady County Job Training Agency.

"It's not acceptable as is. We're not happy about the tax increases," said Finn."We're trying do what we can do to continuously pair this down because it's going to be a burden on county taxpayers."

County legislators, department heads, staff, unions and contract agencies are working to come up with solutions to try to balance the responsibilities of their agencies with the needs of Schenectady County's taxpayers.

"Taxes have gone up consistently over the past many years. We've never seen a year where there's no tax increase, or better yet a tax cut. We have to start working towards trying to get to that point [where there are no tax increases]," said Santabarbara in Monday, Oct. 13, interview.

Santabarbara went on to say that he would eventually like to work toward tax cuts, but that he wants to take it one step at a time.

A local business owner made a plea at the Tuesday, Oct. 14, meeting, for the county to do whatever it takes to not raise taxes.

"How much more can businessmen absorb from taxes? Not much," said Joseph Guidarelli, franchise owner of Proforma Lee's Promotional Products in Schenectady.

He discussed how ever-rising county taxes and shrinking profit margins have caused him to cut back on various aspects of his business significantly.

A public hearing to discuss the proposed 2009 county operating budget will be held at 620 State St. on Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. ""

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