County property tax hikes up to 24 percent predicted

Many of the supervisors who voted "No" had supported a sales tax increase as a way that tourists could help reduce property taxes and build up depleted county cash reserves.

Most recent budget cuts merely theoretical

In a marathon six-hour session Tuesday, the supervisors cut about $700,000 in appropriations out of the budget and added about $400,000 in revenue. This latter bonus was merely a revision of an earlier projection of revenue from electricity generated at the county-owned trash burn plant.

Other last-round "savings" in the 2010 budget were theoretical. No jobs were cut in this last round, and few expenses were actually trimmed except an an across-the-board reduction of 10 percent to the county's budgeted $1.26 million in overtime.

Supervisors including Red Pitkin of Thurman warned Friday that many of the budget cuts may be an illusion, as the county department heads have made many cuts now, but will likely be returning mid-year 2010 to seek extra money shifted to fund their operations when they run out of cash. He also warned about over-optimistic speculation on revenues.

"These cuts look good on paper, but I am concerned about the quality of our decisions," Pitkin said.

Public safety to be compromised?

Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty warned that county department heads would be told that they couldn't come back in mid-2010 for supplementary appropriations or more overtime money.

But Monroe, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said such a dictate would be next to impossible - that the county has an obligation to provide vital services. Overtime in the Sheriff's Office and Public Works department would likely be paid regardless of the supervisors' dictate of a 10 percent reduction, he said.

"If a burglar breaks into someone's house, or we have more snow than we've allotted for, our county employees must and will respond," he said. "If heavy rains wash out a highway like they did with county Rte. 11 in Bolton, it's a matter of public safety, and we'll have to pay for it."

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