Town leaders spar over health center support

"The Warrensburg health Center has made us the hub of health care in the north Country," he said. "We don't want to throw this away."

The defeat of the proposed budget was the first in recent history in Warrensburg.

At the conclusion of Friday's meeting in which Markey and Ackley continued their campaign to cut the support for the center, Rounds suggested that a compromise could be reached if the Warrensburg Health Center could somehow lower the co-pay that town employees pay for medical appointments, and Rugge said he'd look into whether that was possible.

Wednesday, the board was again set to tackle the issue of support for the health center.

Wednesday morning, Markey said that he and other board members were considering a cap to the utility payments. He said that utility bills for the health center, fuel oil and electricity combined, had been as high as $55,000 or so annually, but last year was much lower due to energy efficiency upgrades at the center - paid for by HHHN.

Although the town owns the building that houses the health center, HHHN has paid through the years for its extensive expansions and renovations, including the recent upgrades, which have dramatically cut utility costs. The center also pays for the full utility costs of those additions, or about 23 percent, board members said.

Markey said he and others on the board sought to put a cieling on the utility reimbursements by the town.

"People need to be held accountable in these tough times," he said.

With the $41,000 utility payment in place, the proposed budget - excluding special districts - calls for $2.6 million in appropriations, reduced by $1.2 million in estimated revenue and $311,840 in unexpended fund balance, leaving $1.12 million to be raised in taxes, a 5.3 percent increase over 2010.

The appropriations, general and highway combined, represent a $17, 504 reduction from the 2010 budget, despite an increase in highway expenditures of $16,269, a dramatic increase in state retirement, and increasing health insurance costs.

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