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County budget totals nearly $293 million

Over the last decade, said McQueen, use of fund balance has ranged form $3.5 to $12 million at different times.

"This is not the largest use of surplus, it is a reasonable amount to use with the current economic conditions," said McQueen.

Over the last seven years, cost containment efforts have resulted in $25 million in savings, with 200 non-mandated positions eliminated through attrition totaling $10 million, employee health care reform resulting in $8.7 million, contract reductions reaching $2.2 million and other efficiency efforts.

Sales tax revenue, while not stagnant, are increasing at a slow rate. The first quarter of 2010 sales tax collections remained consistent with 2009, but second quarter revenue raised by 1.6 percent to the comparable quarter from 2009.

Health care and retirement costs are also concerns in the budget.

"We are going to see an increase in our expenditures into the retirement system, so that is one of the pressures we are receiving and feeling this year," said McQueen. "In terms of health care, we have seen significant savings with some of the innovative health care programs we have had in the county."

McQueen said the county has been working well with employee unions to come together on agreements for programs, with a lot of the cost containment initiatives coming from unions.

Also, attaining funding for improvements programs has been a priority for the county, said McQueen. Joe Ryan, director of the county Department Engineering and Public Works, brought in $11 million in state funding for road improvements. McQueen said it allows the county to make some planned improvements without putting stress on taxpayers.

County Legislator Jim Buhrmaster, R-Glenville, did raise objections to the purposed budget and said he doesn't think it is responsible.

"Susan Savage proposed a county budget that is built on a shaky foundation of one-shot state and federal money, unrealistic revenue estimates and draining funds from the county's reserves," Buhrmaster said in a prepared statement. "Her budget is not realistic or fiscally responsible. It's clearly a campaign document designed to distract people from her record of increasing local taxes and spending."

Travis Proulx, spokesman for Savage, disagreed and noted Savage had cut taxes for the fourth time in six years along with creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said Proulx. "Why republicans would object to that is beyond comprehension."

The legislature is holding a public hearing on the budget on Monday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. and on Tuesday, Oct. 5, a special meeting will be held for budget consideration at 7 p.m. in the chambers of the county legislature.

To view the purposed budget visit Schenectady County's website .""

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