Editor, The Spotlight:
An open letter to all Schenectady County legislators:
I have watched and read with amazement the events surrounding the 2013 budget for Schenectady County. I can understand why you would pass the law giving you the ability to exceed the tax cap in the event that it becomes necessary. In Glenville, we were faced with the same dilemma last year. Fortunately, we were able to get our budget below the tax cap and it was not an issue for us as a board. I see in your budget for the coming fiscal year, that there are raises.
I can’t argue with raises for the bargaining unit employees, you are contractually bound to give those. But raises for others, those in patronage jobs and positions that are not under contract? That is completely irresponsible. Raises affect not only the base salary of the employee but the payroll taxes that are paid, workers compensation rates and unemployment insurance rates. So, when raises are given, the “hidden” costs increase as well. I am sure one can argue that the employees have earned their raises.
However, when we are faced with falling revenues, and gaps in the budget such as a nursing home that is bleeding cash at an alarming rate, raises must go. How about in the same vein, a hiring freeze for at least the first six months of the year? How about a 10% cut in all departmental budgets? Reexamine the ways in which you purchase equipment for the DPW and Sheriffs Office?
We did all three of those in Glenville. They were not popular actions, but they were necessary. It does not matter to our constituents that the 2% tax cap is an arbitrary number or that the 2% tax cap is unrealistic or that the real problem lies in unfunded mandates that we are handed from state government that are killing our budgets. What matters to the people of this County is our taxes are too high and we cannot afford to pay more than is absolutely necessary.