QUEENSBURY - Predicting decreases in revenue, Warren County Supervisors officially drew a line in the sand March 11, declaring that the county budget for 2010 will feature no increase in appropriations.
This measure, which departs from a decades-long tradition of spending increases, garnered unanimous approval from supervisors on the county Budget Committee.
"We need to set some guidelines for the department heads to follow," county Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty said. "Setting this mandate now gives them nine months to decide how to work within these constraints."
The proposed budget guidelines would require individual county departments to slash expenditures to make up for an estimated $1.1 million in salary increases among unionized county employees.
"These are extraordinary times," Glens Falls Supervisor-at-Large Bill Kenny said. "The last thing we should be doing is passing along a tax increase to the taxpayers."
Also, the committee passed a second resolution that would strip department heads and all non-unionized of their customary annual 3.5 percent raises.
Last fall while preparing the $150 million 2009 budget, supervisors attempted to implement a tiered pay-raise systems for non-union employees based on salary- with the largest earner receiving the smallest raise. The measure lost traction shortly before the budget's adoption.
Many of the supervisors expressed their fears over the county's projected cash shortfall and several prepared lists of potential cuts to operating costs.
Kenny had a long list of potential program cuts, including reducing the amount of sheriff department road patrols and eliminating the agency's boat patrols on Lake George.
The social services department came under scrutiny, as payouts to third-party agencies continue to rise.
Stony Creek Supervisor Frank Thomas expressed alarm about how much of the county's budget is paid for human services.
"Thirty-four percent of every dollar raised by taxes goes directly to social services programs," he said.
The county budget committee is currently looking into a shift towards a three-year budgetary plan, which would apply projected data in order to prepare a tentative budget years before it is to be adopted.
"This method will force us to look into the future and avoid unwanted surprises," Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe said.