Legislature adopts budget

Tax cap struck down, tax hike at 8 percent

— “Those services will still be available to those people in need of them and who qualify for them,” said Morse.

County Executive-elect Dan McCoy said rumors of losing those services were “scare tactics.”

“We said to Breslin, ‘What do we have to do to live within 2 percent?’ … He didn’t give us details, just said mental health, dental, these are the things that we control,” said McCoy.

The things the legislature doesn’t control is unfunded mandates, which McCoy said make up 70 percent of the budget.

“When Medicaid goes ups $11 million with no relief from the Senate and Assembly, I blame them,” said McCoy. “If we didn’t have unfunded mandates we wouldn’t be here tonight.”

Morse said he and his committee got the tax increase down to 8 percent through a “plethora” of ways, including reducing the workforce and requiring each department to provide a certain amount of savings throughout the year through “whatever means they could achieve.”

“It’s called a personal savings. Each department may be able to save their personal savings through overtime, other types of reductions, training, travel, any kind of expenditures so we allowed each department to cut it the way they thought was best for their department,” said Morse.

Morse said the county also saw an increase in savings from the proposed Medicare advantage plan put in place last year, through the Canadian drug plan from last year and sales tax will be “a little higher” than it was last year based on the last quarter.

“Put all that together and you start reducing the budget and that’s what got us down to the 8 percent,” said Morse.

McCoy said Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap actually helped the legislature arrive at a “responsible” budget.

“I’ve got to compliment Gov. Cuomo for what he’s done because we’ve had more dialogue on this budget in the 12 years I’ve been down here,” said McCoy. “In the past when we ran into problems we’d raise taxes … and didn’t blink an eye.”

The legislature is planning to take the “unprecedented” step of starting the 2013 budget process starting Jan. 1, 2012, said Morse.

“Our goal from Jan. 1 … will be reviewing and looking at every single contract, nonprofit, payment that we make, in a goal to get us down to the lowest possible tax rate and that would include the hopes to get down to the 2 percent,” said Morse.

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