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Otsego County Budget calls for 1.8% tax increase, cuts to various services

By HILARY LANE

OTSEGO COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Otsego County budget for 2012 has been drafted and county legislators are currently reviewing the details.

The document calls for a 1.8% property tax increase as well as cuts to emergency services, the highway department, and senior citizen programs.

Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell crafted the $117 million budget. Among the proposed cuts is the elimination of two full-time and two part-time county employees as well as a mandatory 9% budget cut for all social service organizations such as foster care and senior citizen programs.

"It's a hard choice," says Crowell. "You want to protect taxpayers, but you don't want to cut services that you feel otherwise are not essential, but very needed."

Crowell said one of the biggest problems is the state's lack of contribution to unfunded mandates like Medicaid.

"Albany has the tendancy when they are facing economic hardship and need to balance their local budget. Unfortunately they do it on the backs of the local governments," says Crowell. "So they pass a lot of it down to us."

Some of that then tickles down to the local tax payer. A large majority of the proposed 1.8% property tax increase will fund the $10.5 million Medicaid bill that increases every year.

The Otsego County Legislature will vote on the budget by the end of December. If it is approved, the new plan will go into effect January 1, 2012.

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