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County approves annual budget

PLATTSBURGH - The Clinton County Legislature has approved the 2009-10 county budget.

The board unanimously approved the $156,916,291 budget at their Dec. 10 meeting, with a motion by Legislator Samuel J. Trombley, R-Area 2, Ellenburg, and second by Legislator Robert W. Heins, R-Area 10, Plattsburgh.

The budget consists of a 0.7 percent increase in tax levy - the amount to be raised by property taxes. However, the county tax rate has decreased 3.5 percent from $6.23 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $6.01 per $1,000.

The major increases in the 2009-10 budget consist of increases to health insurance, salary increases and associated fringes, with a net cost of approximately $31.1 million - a $1.7 million increase from 2008. Other increases consist of operating expenses for Plattsburgh International Airport such as additional security and administrative personnel, pavement improvements and other operational and material costs, paired with an $800,000 decrease in airport tenant revenue.

The mandated expansion of the Clinton County Jail was believed to be able to generate extra revenue for the county by housing inmates from other counties, according to information from County Administrator Michael E. Zurlo. However, with the "several new jails now up and running," that "dynamic is no longer an option" and has resulted in an anticipated revenue loss of more than $525,000.

Other factors affecting the budget include across-the-board increases in gas and oil and light and power accounts totaling $326,057, a $215,738 increase in contract agency funding and several reductions in revenue from various departments in 2008.

Sales tax revenue is credited for offsetting much of the expenditures in the budget. An analysis of sales tax receipts within the county from 2008 indicate "Clinton County continues to fair quite well," Zurlo stated in his report. That is due, in part, he stated to several new retail establishments created and an influx in Canadian visitors. Projections for sales tax revenue to be collected in 2009 are estimated at $47.2 million - an increase of more than $2.36 million over the 2008 budgeted amount.

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