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County approves nearly $293 million budget

Farley votes against proposal on the grounds that it provides little relief in the long run

The Schenectady County Legislature passed the 2011 budget of $292.9 million on Tuesday, Oct. 5, during a special meeting in a 12-to-1 vote.

Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Glenville, cast the dissenting vote. Absent from the meeting were Brian Gordon, D-Niskayuna, and James Buhrmaster, R-Glenville. Conservative Holly Vellano voted with the Democrats to secure the budget approval.

I'm happy to put forth a budget that provides property tax relief to residents of our county, while preserving the essential services we provide, said Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, at the start of the meeting. "We're able to provide this relief at a time when it is needed the most, because of our past efforts to budget conservatively and identifying innovative ways of saving money."

Savage state mandates, including increased pension costs, Medicaid costs and public assistance strained the county budget. Those three areas accounted for a $5.1 million increase from 2010.

The total amount used from the fund balance is $9,586,461, which is an increase compared to 2010's nearly $5.2 million. Since 2000, there were three times the fund balance use exceeded 2011. In 2006 $10 million was used, 2004 used nearly $12.8 million and 2003 used almost $9.97 million.

The Democrats touted the fact that the budget provided a 0.2 percent property tax reduction for residents of the county.

"A 0.2 percent tax reduction is still a reduction," said Legislator Philip Fields, D-Schenectady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Farley said he didn't believe the budget provided any tax relief for residents in the long run.

"I am deeply concerned about a number of things that are presented in our budget," said Farley. "It is not a tax cut when you overestimate, in my opinion, your sales tax. It is not a tax cut when you use $9 million in surplus to bring it down to even."

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