Otsego County budget passes: What does it mean for taxpayers?

By Hilary Lane

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - After much heated debate, the Otsego County Board of Representatives voted to pass the 2013 budget Wednesday.

According to Otsego County Treasurer and Budget Director Dan Crowell, steps had to be taken to help close the gap created by employee retirement expenses and the Otsego Manor nursing home's rising operating costs.

"The Medicaid reimbursement rate has dropped off significantly for 2013," said Crowell. "It is normally $3 to $3.5 million that we have to subsidize with the taxpayer base. That has now jumped up to a $5.5 million operating gap."

Crowell said the county is now looking to privatize the nursing home to prevent an even bigger strain next year.

When it comes to taxes, residents will see a 1.97% hike.

For the average home in Otsego County assessed at $100,000, that is an increase of $4.50 a year.

In addition, 8 positions in total will be eliminated. The Office of the Aging, Department of Health, and the Highway Department will all experience cuts.

"We are cutting deep into the bone of those services," said Crowell. "We could restructure in prior years at a lower cost but the room to do that is not there anymore so that has resulted more directly in cutting and losing services as a result."

Representative Donald Lindberg (R- Worcester) voted against the budget. He said more positions should be cut to take the burden off of local residents.

"I believe the tax payer is having a hard time out there," said Lindberg. "Heating is high, gasoline is high, food is high, people can't afford to be in there home and we keep taxing."

The budget will go into effect January 1, 2013.

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