Essex County adopts budget; Palmer wins fund balance debate

At the beginning of the five-hour marathon meeting of the full county board, the 2011 budget had a 9.6 percent tax hike.

"I've been beaten on this one," Scozzafava said afterward.

An additional $175,000 in state grant revenue for the county Transportation Department trimmed taxes even further.

For weeks, supervisors have scratched and clawed to get a once 30 percent tax hike below 10 percent.

And Douglas is pleased with the results following countless hours of arguing and number-crunching.

"For the last two months, we've been haggling back and forth. I feel our constituency got a job well done by the board of supervisors during these difficult fiscal times," he said. "We're trying to provide services without affecting the tax levy at a huge rate."

But fund balance wasn't entirely off the table.

County contracting agencies - like the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the county Soil and Water District - had faced an across-the-board 10 percent funding cut.

But instead of slashing the county contributions completely, supervisors reinstated the full funding levels for 17 of the 19 contracting agencies with $40,000 from the fund balance.

Cornell Cooperative Extension - which receives the most funding - will see its $210,000 funding level reduced by 3.5 percent as supervisors continue to protest any and all employee pay increases.

The county Industrial Development Agency voluntarily sacrificed $28,000 in county funding because of the pending tax hike.

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