County budget totals nearly $293 million

Process complete; Buhrmaster says budget is Savage's 'campaign document'

Schenectady County's purposed 2011 budget could provide a little relief for taxpayers during tough economic times.

County legislators held budget review meetings on Monday, Sept. 20, and Tuesday, Sept. 21, to discuss the purposed budget. There more review sessions were canceled, because the Committee on Ways and Means completed their review of the budget during the second meeting night.

The Schenectady County Tentative 2011 Budget provides a 0.2 percent property tax decrease, which is slightly under the 0.3 percent decrease Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature Susan Savage had announced on Monday, Sept. 13.

This budget tries to maintain the level of service that we have been providing, said Joe McQueen, spokesman for the county.

The budget proposes a $64,431,068 property tax levy and total budget appropriations reaching $292,935,650. The average yearly budget increase from 2001 to the purposed 2011 budget is 2 percent, which brings a reduction to the 5.5 percent average yearly increase from 1991 to 2001.

"The biggest piece of the budget would be the state mandates, because 78 percent of the budget is state mandates," said Joe McQueen, spokesman for the county. "More and more [the state] has cut the money that comes to the counties for the mandated programs, but the counties still have to provide the programs."

In order to ease the burden on taxpayers, $9.5 million is planned to be used from the county's fund balance, which Savage said totaled $35 million before setting aside funds. The 2010 budget allocated $6 million from the fund balance, but Savage said the fund balance was able to return to the $35 million balance.

"We have a pretty robust fund balance as a whole, so this doesn't present any dangers to us," said McQueen. "With the current economic conditions, use of the fund balance was prudent in order to keep the tax rate down, so that we can provide some form of tax relief to home owners and tax payers that really need it now."

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