Jefferson County Budget Faring Better Than Others
Jefferson County Administrator Bob Hagemann says although it's early in the budget process the county - unlike many other local governments - looks to be in good financial shape.
It's thanks to money the county is making in sales and property taxes.
Canadian shoppers are providing the boost in sales tax dollars and property values are up because of new construction to meet the housing demand fueled by Fort Drum.
"The combination of such have positioned us to be, in a way, able to control the expenditure side of our budget, so we've not had to pass those costs on to the taxpayer," Hagemann said.
County finance and rules committee chair Scott Gray says the county's conservative approach is also part of the reason.
"We're restraining ourselves from overindulging and overspending," Gray said.
Although Jefferson County appears to be in good financial shape, that doesn't mean it isn't facing the same challenges other counties are.
One of those big challenges is mandate relief. Counties are required to fund programs the state mandates, but at the same time, counties have to stay under the 2 percent tax cap for increasing property taxes.
One mandated problem area is welfare.
"New York is the Cadillac of the line, comparing New York to other states, so the cost of providing those services is extremely high," Hagemann said.
"We need to cut those programs."
While St. Lawrence and Lewis counties struggle, Hagemann says it's Jefferson County's conservative approach that put it in a good spot.
At least for now.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, Watertown, NY
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