Amended budget introduced

Changes drop tax levy hike to 1.6 percent

— An updated version of the tentative Saratoga County 2013 budget presented at a Monday, Dec. 3, public hearing at the county offices lowers the proposed property tax hike.

“The tentative budget we introduced on Oct. 31 reduced overall spending by $5 million from last year,” said Charlton Supervisor Alan Grattidge. “It also maintained our low property tax rate and implemented a decisive program to restore the county’s financial stability. Over the past month, the Board of Supervisors amended the tentative budget and I’m proud to report we’ve made a number of improvements.”

Grattidge said they were able to reduce the proposed property tax levy by more than $500,000, which would bring the projected levy increase of 2.6 percent down to 1.6 percent.

Grattidge said the board found savings by switching health insurance providers and recognizing the revenue the county would receive from the sewer district in exchange for the county-owned landfill in Northumberland. The county hopes for at least $4 million in revenue resulting from a private company either purchasing or operating the landfill. Three firms have submitted proposals.

County Administrator Spencer Hellwig addressed other highlights of the amended budget and explained how the savings were achieved.

“Compared against the 2012 adopted budget of $205.6 million, the board has lowered overall spending by 2 percent, or just over $5 million,” said Hellwig.

Hellwig pointed out that state mandates would add up to $97.5 million next year, or 124 percent of property tax levy, negating the savings achieved by the county.

One of the actions taken to reduce spending was to defund 95 county positions. This included 33 in the General Fund, 15 in the Public Works Fund and 47 positions at Maplewood Manor. Hellwig said though many positions at Maplewood Manor would be taken off the books, that would translate to only about four layoffs.

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