County facing financial storm clouds with spiraling employee, debt and trash expenses

QUEENSBURY - Warren County is facing a projected financial shortfall of about $6.35 million in 2010 that it needs to plan ahead for now, county financial officials said in a budget meeting held April 8.

The county treasurer's office released its estimates of unexpected budgetary increases that included a projection of $450,000 costs in additional health care premiums for county employees and $1.4 million extra the state would require to pay toward employee retirement.

The latter increase is due to the slumping stock market, county officials said.

Projected sagging revenues at the county-bankrolled trash burn plant operation mean the county is likely to face expenses of $2.2 million in additional payments during 2010 toward the burn plant operation, they said.

Settlements of pending employee work contracts are likely to cost $1.1 million additional, according to projections.

Debt service payments on bonds and loans for the county's new facilities - including the new $19 million Social Services building - are likely to add another $1.2 million to the taxpayer burden, the county officials said.

This total of $6.35 million, if not reduced or offset partially by revenues, translates to a 17.6 percent increase in 2010 county property taxes, county officials said.

But Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty said measures have been enacted that are intended to keep a lid on increases.

He said all county department heads have been warned recently that their individual departmental budgets will be expected to have no increase for 2010, and that no raises will be granted to any non-union employees including department bosses. Contractual longevity stipends also will not increase he said.

The budget committee endorsed the initiatives.

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