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Essex County passes 2010 budget

ELIZABETHTOWN - The Essex County Board of Supervisors officially adopted its 2010 budget Dec. 7, but not without plenty of late discussion about ways to cut spending.

The board began with a proposed tentative budget that included $93.2 million in appropriations; a $2.9 million decrease compared to the 2009 budget.

Revenues for the county are estimated to decrease by $3.7 million, however. Un-amended, the budget would have amounted to a 5 percent increase in the tax levy.

Supervisors held a budget workshop Nov. 25 to propose additional cuts. It resulted in a plan that would have increased the tax levy by 2.1 percent.

One of the proposals from the workshop was to save $159,200 by limiting management raises to 2 percent instead of the 4.25 percent raise originally slated.

But when supervisors met to amend and approve the budget, the trimmed raises for management-confidential employees were ultimately turned down.

Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, who serves as the board's budget liaison officer, explained that he had reached a compromise with county Manager Dan Palmer that would allow the 4.25 percent raises to remain in place so long as the county initiated a conservative three-to-five year raise schedule for management-confidential employees and took a critical look at their salaries.

"Although I am not in favor of the 4.25 increases across the board, at least I am satisfied that we have reached a compromise to look at each salary individually," Scozzafava said.

Still, not everyone on the board shared the same satisfaction. Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee moved to include the raise-reduction anyway.

"It's very difficult to support the 4.25 for everyone," said Ferebee. "I couldn't support that in my own town, and I feel the 2 percent is satisfactory."

Ferebee's proposal ultimately failed, however, as it failed to garner enough support to even be allowed on the floor for discussion.

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