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Albany County executive proposes cuts in 2010

Albany County Executive Mike Breslin released a 2010 county budget proposal on Thursday, Oct. 8, that would cut jobs, increase the tax levy by 5.9 percent and begin the downsizing process for the county-run nursing home.

The $11.6 million in spending cutswhich includes 109 layoffs and the elimination of 130 vacant positionsis largely due to lagging revenues and increasing employee pension and health insurance costs, said Breslin.

He added that this is the 15th budget he's prepared as county executive, and these outside issues have made it problematic.

"This is the most difficult budget I've had to face, and there were some very difficult choices," he said.

The $71.9 million tax levy will represent a tax increase of $19 to $42 per year for the owner of a $150,000 home, depending on the municipality, according to Breslin's office.

"I don't like imposing it in these times, but I really don't know how much further we can cut here without giving up vital services," Breslin said.

In addition to making cuts, the county would use $6.6 million of reserve funds under the executive budget. The total proposed appropriations for the year would be $571.4 million, an $11.6 million decrease from this year's levels.

The layoffs would be centered in the nursing home, where 74 employees would be released during the course of the coming year. The other layoffs would be across the county departments, said County Executive Office Spokeswoman Mary Duryea, as would most of the vacant positions.

Included in that figure are 40 employees who took advantage of a buyout program earlier this year whose vacant positions would be eliminated.

"We were hoping that more people would take advantage of that voluntary separation plan," said Duryea.

Cuts at the nursing home might not bring immediate benefit to the county, but with the specter of future hardship phasing out that service and moving to more at-home care for the elderly is part of Breslin's plan.

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