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County likely to hike mortage tax to balance budget

QUEENSBURY For those who mortgage their home, business or land in Warren County, it will likely soon cost considerably more in an up-front fee. Wednesday, County Supervisors endorsed an idea to increase the county mortgage tax from 1 percent to 1.25 percent in an effort to boost revenue to balance their budget. The move is expected to increase tax revenues by about $500,000, county Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty said. The tax is paid to the county clerk when a property owner records a mortgage at the time of a property sale or re-financing. Geraghty said the 1.25 percent tax rate was in line with the rates many other counties charge, and supervisors saw it as a painless way to increase revenues and help alleviate a looming budget crunch. In recent weeks, county Treasurer Frank OKeefe has warned the supervisors that if expenses werent cut or revenues werent increased, county property owners would be faced with a tax increase of over 13 percent for 2009. Despite the recent doom-and-gloom budget predictions, supervisors heard some good news Wednesday. A report OKeefe issued this week indicated the county had reserve funds of $4.45 million in its coffers, rather than the $500,000 or so which he had previously estimated a sum that supervisors said was dangerously low. Geraghty warned that the newfound savings shouldnt be seen as an answer to the financial pressures the county is facing. This doesnt subtract much at all from our budget concerns, he said. Its still going to be tight.

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