SLC Legislators Cut Jobs
The budget axe has started to come down in St. Lawrence County.
County legislators agreed Monday night to cut five jobs from county government. Four of the jobs are in the county highway department, although one of them is not currently filled.
Another job was cut from the real property tax office.
Legislators also agreed to reduce funding for salt and sand for county roads, various equipment and supply purchases, roadside mowing and fuel.
When you add it all up, legislators saved about $750,000 Monday night. They have a ways to go; legislators would have to cut $9 million to not raise taxes next year.
As originally proposed, the 2013 budget called for a 19 percent tax increase, which was roughly $166 dollars a year more on a hypothetical $100,000 house. (The actual number would vary widely from town to town because of a variety of factors.)
No one thought a 19 percent tax increase would stand, but the cuts legislators are making are politically charged. You could see that Tuesday in the comments of various legislators.
"If we really want to make some serious cuts in 2013 and beyond, it's going to be in personnel," said Dan Parker, district 11 legislator.
But his next door neighbor, district 10 legislator Jim Bunstone, said "I'm not in favor of bringing this budget down by personnel at all."
None of what's being done now is final: legislators still have to hold a public hearing on the budget and then vote on it.
Legislators will next turn their attention to probation and other departments.
And none of it may ultimately make that much difference: county administrator Karen St. Hilaire, who is under fire for presenting the tax increase budget, has told legislators that if every non-mandated program was cut, they'd still only be half way to closing the county's budget gap.
The other issue, of course, is sales tax. The county hasn't been able to convince either state senator Patty Ritchie or state senator Joe Griffo to sponsor legislation that would allow the county to raise its sales tax by one percent. If they could win such an increase, some legislators - and St. Hilaire - believe the county could reduce the need for cuts and property tax increases.
Sunday, May 19, 2013, Watertown, NY
On Wall Street