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Warren County to hold the line

QUEENSBURY - Citing lackluster revenue projections, Warren County supervisors officially drew a line in the sand this month, declaring that the budget for 2010 will feature an overall 0 percent increase in appropriations.

The measure garnered unanimous approval from all members of the county budget committee.

"We need to set some guidelines for the department heads to follow," said County Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty. "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 line-items to make-up for an estimated $1.1 million in salary increases among unionized county employees.

"These are extraordinary times," said Glens Falls Supervisor-at-Large Bill Kenny. "The last thing we should be doing is passing along a tax increase to the tax payers."

Further, the committee passed a second resolution that would strip department heads and all non-unionized employees of their annual 3.5 percent raises.

Last fall while preparing the $150 million 2009 budget, supervisors attempted to implement a tiered pay-raise system for non-union employees based on overall salary - with the largest earners receiving the least raise. The measure lost traction shortly before the budgets adoption.

Some supervisors expressed their fears over the county's projected cash shortfalls and several came prepared with lists of possible methods of decreasing operating cost.

Kenny had a long list of potential program-cuts including reducing the amount of sheriff department road patrols on a given shift and eliminating sheriff department boat patrols of Lake George.

The social services department came under direct scrutiny, as pay-outs to third-party agencies continue to rise.

"Thirty four percent of every dollar raised by taxes goes directly to social services programs," said Stony Creek Supervisor Frank Thomas.

The 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," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe.

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