BALLSTON SPA The 2013 Saratoga County budget, if adopted, would usher in some significant changes.
The most notable aspect of the spending plan, which was released on Wednesday, Oct. 31, is the proposed privatization of Maplewood Manor, the county-run nursing home. A deal would entail reducing staffing there and shutting down a unit with 40 empty beds.
In addition, the budget includes $4 million for the sale of the county landfill, a number County Administrator Spencer Hellwig acknowledged as “placeholder,” but one arrived at with the help of a consultant. The county is examining three proposals from private companies, but details on those plans are not yet known.
Overall, the $300 million budget is $5 million, or 1.6 percent, less than this year’s spending plan. The property tax levy would increase by 2.5 percent under the proposed budget, but that is still considered to be within the state mandated 2 percent property tax cap because certain factors like payments in leiu of taxes programs programs, are exempt from the cap.
“The 2012 budget implemented many tough decisions meant to begin the process of rebuilding Saratoga County’s financial position,” Hellwig said in releasing the budget. “The 2013 tentative budget continues that progress and takes the next steps forward on difficult issues like Maplewood Manor and the county landfill. These steps are necessary to solidify a foundation for the years to come.”
Maplewood Manor has been a drain on county finances for years. Its operating deficit for 2013 was projected at $10.4 million. The budget calls for the creation of a Local Development Corporation (LDC) before the end of 2012 to manage the sale of Maplewood Manor. An LDC would allow the county to borrow against the facility’s value, although Hellwig said that might not be necessary given the savings the county would see from closing the wing and defunding roughly 40 positions vacated by retirement. Those moves are expected to save just over $1 million.