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State delinquent in making tax payments

QUEENSBURY - State government is two months overdue on payments of property taxes to Warren County, local government officials announced this week.

In the midst of a continuing municipal cash crunch, Warren County officials said this week that promptly receiving these missing funds - totaling $2.5 million - is essential in order to maintain governmental operations.

"The state usually pays their property taxes in January," County Board of Supervisor Chairman Fred Monroe said. "We submitted a voucher on Jan. 7 and still haven't received anything back."

Warren County is currently owed $2.5 million in back taxes from the state, Monroe said.

"This is a pretty serious hit," Monroe said. "We had anticipated this money would be here by now- things are already tight as it is."

Cash management has been a problem so far this year with the county, as county leaders held an emergency meeting in January to borrow $1.7 million to meet pending bills.

At that time, the county board of supervisors voted to borrow up to $4.5 million to meet unexpected expenses during 2009. The county leaders blamed not only revenue shortfalls, but lack of appropriate planning by county Treasurer, Frank O'Keefe. He argued at the time that he had given the supervisors plenty of warning about the looming shortfalls. Franklin, Clinton and Washington counties are also owed similar amounts in overdue tax payments, he said. Essex and Hamilton counties have received their payments from the state Department of Real Property, officials said.

Concerning the state's delinquent tax payments, Warren County Deputy Treasurer Rob Lynch said this week that the retirement of the official who handled the tax payments to the counties has caused the back log.

The Warren County Finance Committee voted to send what Committee Chair Dan Stec called a 'nasty-gram", in order to remind the state of its obligations to municipalities.

"The real problem is that the towns are supposed to get their portion of the state payments by mid-April," Monroe said. "If they don't pay by then, I am not sure what we are going to do."

The $2.5 million is part of an overall $6 million in taxes that New York State pays annually to Warren County.

"This is one of those times we need to pound on the Governor's door and scream 'fix the law'," Stec said.

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