Hearing: save jobs, spend on budget

— More than 100 people packed into the Old Courthouse at the Essex County Government Center with a request that some may not have expected to hear.

Raise our taxes.

A total of 24 people spoke at the 2012 county budget hearing Monday, Dec. 5, with most asking for the Essex County Board of Supervisors to reinstate funding for a number of programs, including the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Adirondack Harvest and the Adirondack Regional Airport.

A number of programs were either partially or completely cut in the proposed budget brought to the board by the county budget committee, which also included the use of $4 million in fund balance and the elimination of 30 county positions.

“We need to support you when it comes to the tough decisions to raise taxes in order to provide those services,” Gordon Davis of Westport said. “These are difficult times that we are living through, and you are struggling with these difficult decisions. I admire you for the way that you are tackling this. The truth is government services cost money.”

Each speaker received a round of applause from those who packed into the courthouse as they spoke about contract agencies and county employees who could be facing layoffs.

“I’m all right with seeing my taxes raised $90 and leave it the way that it is,” Jim Hotaling, a county employee from Willsboro, said about the proposal to cut 30 jobs from the budget as recommended by the county budget committee. “In my department, the cuts would get rid of two positions, cutting us from seven people to five.”

Essex County CSEA President Michael McGinn also spoke, asking the board to take a closer look at the budget in order to avoid layoffs. McGinn added that he felt the union had attempted to bargain in good faith.

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