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Proposed Herkimer County budget has no tax increase, draws concerns

By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - A public hearing was held Wednesday night regarding the proposed 2010 Herkimer County budget.  The $92 million proposal drew no crowd, however it continues to spark debate among legislators over the money used to balance it.

Herkimer County lawmakers are using federal stimulus money to balance their 2010 budget. It is a move many counties across the state are making, but it is not a popular move with everyone. Some lawmakers argue it doesn't plan for future budgets.
    
Herkimer County Legislator, Helen R, (D) 3rd District says she will vote against the proposed budget next week because of the fact stimulus money was used to help balance it.  Rose says the finance committee of the board did not look hard enough at other cost savings measures, instead of using the stimulus money.

"It is borrowed money, it's my children and my grandchildren and who ever else lives in the area (their money)," Rose said.  "That's what were doing, and were doing it at all levels of  government.  I think the levels I have influence on I would encourage us not to do it as wholesale as we have."

Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace who helped put the budget together, says the county used the stimulus money for what it was meant for.

"When you talk to Senator (Charles) Schumer his whole theory was to be able to hold counties harmless," Wallace.  "Because what is happening with interest costs and sales tax costs and what's happening with medicaid cost over the years, that this would help county budgets."

According to Wallace the stimulus money, combined with a multimillion dollar projection in new revenues, is what helped lawmakers keep the proposed 2010 budget without a tax increase.

The County Administrator did say he has concerns for future budgets, including the 2011 budget.  Wallace says there are already projections for that budget, and early figures show lawmakers may be forced to start with a 3 to 3.5% tax increase once they start to craft it.  

The Herkimer County Board will vote on the 2010 budget Wednesday December 16th.

 

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