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It's time to reconsider sales tax option and slash the property tax burden

Talk among Warren County leaders has resurfaced about raising the sales tax from 7 to 8 percent, a move that could shift about $15 million off the backs of property owners.

The discussion has erupted again because since June, county leaders have been firing employees, paring down the county's expenses, cutting programs to the bone, yet they're still facing a $2 million budget deficit as they are attempting to keep the tax rates the same as last year.

County revenues, however, have fallen sharply, whether it's a $3.2 million drop in sales tax projected for this year, or a $600,000 decrease in bed tax receipts.

Pair that with a $1.6 million increase in subsidy necessary for the Hudson Falls trash plant, and a $1.2 million increase in contribution to retirement benefits for county employees, and the financial distress intensifies.

Add onto that the increased program costs the state is shifting to local municipalities - including $500,000 additional to administrate the food stamp program - and the county property owners are facing a staggering increase in taxes for 2010 and beyond.

Meanwhile, some of the needs of the citizens, many of which the county is mandated to take care of, are soaring.

The county Health Services department has more cases than ever, yet they may have to drastically cut their care due to downsized staffing.

Social Services caseloads have increased 35 to 65 percent, depending on the program - so this is not the time to cut staffing in the Social Services department as the county leaders have been doing.

They have been considering eliminating one of two attorneys who argue cases in court concerning abuse and neglect of children, seeking to change custody arrangements and have the children placed in safe, loving homes.

Cutting the legal staff in half puts children at risk.

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