St. Lawrence County Needs $Millions To Stem Shortfall
St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators chair Sallie Brothers says when it came time to vote at Monday night's finance committee meeting, she had little choice.
If lawmakers did not agree to a resolution to borrow $12 million, the county would run out of cash to meet its financial obligations.
Treasurer Kevin Felt warned the county would have a tough time making payroll by as early as next month.
"It's easy to say, 'well, I'm not going to borrow the money, I'm just simply not going to do it'" Brothers said.
"Okay," she said, "then tell me how you're going to go and pay your bills."
With that in mind, committee members voted 10 to 4 in favor of borrowing the money.
The resolution now goes to the full board of legislators for final approval at a meeting on September 10.
The board could decrease the amount of money it wants to borrow. Some lawmakers questioned whether $12 million was really necessary.
The county borrowed $8.5 million last year.
"I don't think it's necessary to borrow more," said finance committee chair Fred Morrill.
"I don't believe there was many months where we actually had less than $8.5 million cash, though there were some," he said.
What is clear is that St. Lawrence County faces a serious cash flow problem.
It still hasn't received about $3 million it's owed in gambling compact money and the state is running $12 million to $13 million behind in its reimbursement payments.
"So, as a result, we have to borrow money and it costs our taxpayers - our property taxpayers - money for the state to be slow in their payments to us," Morrill said.
Many lawmakers agree the county simply can't afford to do nothing.
Monday, May 20, 2013, Watertown, NY
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